When Trident Booksellers & Cafe first opened its doors on Pearl Street’s West End back in1980, no one could have predicted the cornerstone it would become for Boulder. Founded by Hudson Shotwell and James Gimian, two members of Boulder’s Vajradhatu Buddhist community and students of Chögyam Trungpa (the founder of Naropa University), the store initially only sold books largely focused on Buddhist principles.
A few years later, Trident added the first espresso bar in Boulder and expanded its space into a cafe. “While Trident has evolved since opening over 40 years ago, many of the founding principles still remain,” said Jake Dirnberger, Assistant Manager. “First and foremost, our goal is to cultivate a space for the community where everyone feels welcome. We don’t want to expand into a huge business - we pride ourselves on being a local and independent operation that encourages compassion and free thinking.”
Today, Trident specializes in books centered around spirituality, astrology, literature, art, poetry and philosophy while offering a wide variety of directly-sourced coffee and tea. “We actually started our own coffee roastery located in Salt Lake City, where we work with our small start-up team to roast our own beans. We’re part of “Cup of Excellence,” which is an independent body that ensures farmers are paid a fair price for crops and promotes direct trade relationships. Our tea follows a similar philosophy and is all directly sourced from farmers around the world.”
When Jake first moved to Boulder from Atlanta in 2009, he had no idea that Trident would become such a large part of his life. “I started to hang out at Trident often, and I thought they had the highest coffee quality in town. When I was in between jobs in 2016, I figured Trident would be a good place to work but never thought I would one day become an employee owner.”
Over the years, he has come to realize that he’s living his dream job. “I get so much freedom in this role, and I have an amazing crew to work with. I also have access to some of the best coffee and tea in the world!”
His favorite part of his job is the people. “I think Trident is so successful in Boulder because of the people here, and it’s really the people that make this place so unique. At Trident, the slice of Boulder who support us is extremely diverse - a lot of the old guard, old school mountain climbers and outdoors people, a work crowd of start-ups and entrepreneurs, the punk side of the younger scene, Shambhala Buddhists and more. We could never do this without the people of Boulder.”
Recently, Trident has expanded its outdoor space and hosts many community events. “Because the goal of the shop is to have people come together in community, growing our events operation has been a natural fit. Come hang out and find your place here. Connect with other great people in Boulder. And if you still prefer the comfort of your home, you can order teas online or support us through purchasing a mystery pack of books.”
While Trident has grown from its Buddhist roots, it still closely holds onto the principles of kindness, connection and critical thinking. If you’re looking to grow your community, learn something or simply want to enjoy a great cup of coffee, Trident Booksellers & Cafe is for you. Follow them on social media (@tridentboulder) and stop by the historic shop on the West End of Pearl Street - chances are you’ll meet someone new!
Trident Booksellers & Cafe
Trident is so successful in Boulder because of the people here, and it’s really the people that make this place so unique.