Meet the mother-daughter duo behind Here House and Local Coffee
The coffee shop and social club have gone through a couple iterations, most recently this past December. The changes have confused at least some locals and visitors and have others intrigued.
Is the Local Coffee house still for locals? Yes, but geared more toward grab-and-go items that are chef-driven instead of a traditional coffee shop, where patrons might linger and check their email on a laptop.
Is the private club located in exclusive space? Yes, but the open design of the Here House allows for a more seamless transition between the spaces.
Here’s how the Local Coffee and Here House lines blur and offer completely different experiences within the same space.
In February 2018, Local Coffee opened. Created by mother-daughter duo Candice Carpenter Olson and Makelya Carpenter — New Yorkers who had permanently transitioned to make their home in Aspen — they were invested in creating a community space.
They transformed the former high-end Italian Henry Beguelin on East Cooper Avenue into a community-forward design store and added espresso. Six months later, due to demand, it had all been converted to a coffee shop.
Surviving the onset of COVID within their second year of operation, Local Coffee thrived with customers — both Aspenites and visitors, alike. Local Coffee has won Best Coffee in the annual Aspen Times Best Of contest every year thus far since opening (2018-22).
Here House, a club
In 2019, the women opened Here House in the space next to Local Coffee. There was a social membership component to the space, offering something special for the community, they said.
“By year two, Local Coffee had become (and remains) a very successful community gathering spot, which is what we wanted. But as it got more crowded, we wanted another space where people could linger longer, get to know each other better, and which could represent the whole range of locals and second-home owners who identify as locals,” explained Carpenter Olson.
“That was Here House, which we opened next door with 75 members — a co-op model, where the members collectively share the cost of the space and the amenities. COVID began six months after we opened, and Here House became an important refuge for people who lived here and had moved here and needed a place to work/hang out during COVID.”
The membership cost $2,400 at the time. It was an immediate hit.
“In New York, I never belonged to a single club. It wasn’t for me. They all seemed too stuffy, too focused on issues that weren’t relevant to me. I wasn’t a club person,” said Carpenter Olson.
Her own persona screams New York. Dressed in all leather, walking a sophisticated poodle, she is fierce, feisty, and fine-tuned. Regardless, she was deeply entrenched in diverse Aspen networks, along with her daughter.
Her and her daughter’s new network blossomed within Here House and reflected many threads intricately woven together communing in this newfound space. A group could be watching a ski film in the lounge, there could be a wine tasting in the café, supper clubs, live music, yoga, meditation, financial workshops, the breath of program, and comfort with a social club in Aspen.
“Here House is like my living room in Aspen,” said Ashley Grimmel, owner of Grimmel Biometrics, a corporate wellness and performance optimization company. “They offer such fun events from mindful wine tastings to discussion with the ‘legends of Aspen.’ Being a member at Here House makes me feel like I’m part of something that’s actually making a difference and bringing the ‘Aspen’ back to Aspen.”
“What made Aspen ‘Aspen’ was the organic community that sprung up in the late ’60s-early ’70s,” said Here House patron Juan Pablo Cappello. “The team at the Here House has worked tirelessly over the past several years to create more connection and community in Aspen through the events it has hosted. Here House has built a reputation of excellence and professionalism. Their events are always well attended and well received by the local community.”
There were additional nuances of the club that differed from other private offerings, and the Carpenters decided to add another layer to their network. Puppies and children were always welcome at Here House and Local Coffee, but there was more.
By August 2022, Local Coffee was the most popular coffee shop in Aspen, serving as many as 1,000 people in a given day.
“It was taxing on the staff, the kitchen, and it wasn’t the original intention of the community coffee house,” said Carpenter Olson.
Locals could no longer go to Local and get a cup of coffee.
“Our regular customers couldn’t wait in line for 30 minutes to get a cup of coffee before heading into the office. Nor could they get a table for a bite to eat,” she said.
Local was becoming less local and more a tourist destination, which wasn’t a surprise. Nonetheless, that didn’t weigh well with the owners.
Slow season in early winter 2022 proved to be the ladies’ speedy season as they wove a new social fabric at Here House.
New at Here House
“Now, well past COVID, we decided in late 2022 to highlight our social aspect and add even more evening programs, parties, and to bring in a new chef trained at Little Nell and Bosq with a fresh, rotating menu below the usual Aspen prices for a gracious sit-down lunch,” said Carpenter Olson.
Here House is also currently hiring a director of fine dining and wine from a 5-star property to become a prime choice for members for their lunch and après.
Two more membership levels were revealed, in addition to extended supported hours until 6 p.m. and even 8 p.m. several nights a week. Members have 24-hour access to the space and to the honor bar and audio-visual options.
It’s the atmosphere of a boutique hotel lobby with perks, as well: dedicated wifi, printer, scanner, and full aforementioned audio-visual capabilities. There is ski storage, day lockers, slippers, and complimentary fireside cookies just 30 seconds from the Silver Queen Gondola and local mind-and-body partners Aspen Shakti, Ajax Gym, and Tonic Method.
The social dynamic also began to incorporate Patron dinners at members’ homes, which creates fresh collections of people who may have never met.
There is a concierge from 8 a.m. to throughout the afternoon, a new calendar of events, complimentary drip coffee, tea, and pastries, as well as an all-day menu.
“I think there is an investment in a wine program and a sommelier. I also think it’s important to have a biodynamic and extraordinary wines at under $20 a glass,” Carpenter Olson said.
“Not only do I love the people that own it, who frequent it, who spend time there, it’s about the community, and we need that so badly right now in Aspen. And the gnocchi for like $12, it’s incredible,” said Skippy Mesirow.
“The private chef keeps the food offerings feeling like your mom in the kitchen — except your mom happens to be a pro chef,” said Grimmel.
The Here House membership fees aim to help keep price points well below the mean Aspen meal and cup of coffee.