By Vicky Dorvee 

Root Kava gets an extra shot from Niwot


April 24, 2019

Vicky Dorvee

Niwot resident Keller Heurich is a new business partner at The Root Kava Co. in Boulder.

Coffee, booze, and marijuana - all legal substances that make you feel a little body-mind “something something.” Now you can add Kava to that list. Imported from such exotic South Pacific Islands as Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon, Kava has become Boulder-bound going straight to The Root Kava Co., the first bar of its kind in the county.

Opened in October 2018, The Root is owned by four partners; Winn Kirkpatrick, John Callahan, Pat Irvine and, the newest partner, Keller Heurich, hailing from Niwot. Heurich is a 2014 Niwot High School graduate.

Heurich has familiarity, reverence, and great praise for Kava, its history, uses, and benefits. His expertise on all that is Kava, along with his warmth and enthusiasm, make him a wonderful ambassador for Kava and The Root.

Heurich said, “It’s not addictive, it can uplift the spirit, and it’s a social lubricant.” He described it as “plant medicine,” and said the high quality product The Root offers is superior to Kava in a supplement form. There’s no residual feeling and no hangover ickiness, because it doesn’t affect the body’s neuro-chemistry.

After a drink, Heurich explained, imbibers experience a sense of relaxation, a release of stress and anxious feelings, all while maintaining a clear mind. For those struggling with alcoholism or wanting to drink less hard liquor, having Kava at The Root leads to a calm feeling in a welcoming space without losing sobriety.

Those who experience anxiety in social situations will feel more open and willing to interact with others after consuming Kava. It’s also an effective sleep aid, Heurich said, and some report having pleasant lucid dreams as a result. The Root’s drinks may be ordered for take-out, but enjoying Kava at the bar won’t impair motor skills, so driving afterward is not an issue.

Heurich discovered the upside of Kava years ago while looking for natural ways to relax and relieve stress. After reading a lot of positive testimonies about the herb, he gave it a try and was sold on the results.

When The Root opened in Boulder, Heurich became a regular at the establishment and soon became friends with the owners. He mentioned his interest in opening his own Kava bar, something that had been on his radar for quite a while. The partners offered him a quarter slice of ownership in The Root, and it became official in March.

Now you’ll find Heurich at The Root most days of the week, serving customers, assisting with marketing, and because it’s not something most people are familiar with, he’s educating the public a lot about Kava.

Heurich has worked for Niwot Liquor Store and Abo’s, he’s been a house-pet sitter, and done audio engineering and recording, and he’s made “some good investments” - all the while putting his paychecks into savings.

“I never really spent my money. I was just waiting for something good to happen,” Heurich said. “Then this came along and it was kind of meant to be. It’s a dream come true.”

The Root is gathering no moss. Word is spreading, business is building, bands are playing, local art is on display, there’s a monthly drum circle, and talk of yoga classes being held in the space. College students, working and retired folks are all being drawn to the mindful ambiance.

“It’s a place to come and socialize in a really healthy environment. There aren’t enough places I think, where you can go and hang out in a calm and chill environment. You can have great conversations and make friends here. It’s really the combination of Kava and the community here that makes it something special,“ Heurich said.

Kava, made from the Piper methysticum plant, is served two ways at The Root: in the traditional manner where the plant root is dried in the sun, pounded into a powder, strained, and mixed with water, or Dirty Badger style, a more concentrated version made with a CO2 extract, which allows the beverage to deliver its effects more quickly. Both types are served chilled and presented in a small round bowl, intended to feel like new age version of the authentic half coconut shell used for island ceremonies. Cupping the bowl-mug in two hands is half the fun of drinking the magical concoction.

The taste of Kava is earthy and differs in flavor based on its origin. Fijian-grown Kava has spicy notes and Tongan is mild and nutty, for instance. Each type will have a different effect, so your Kava-tender will tell you which one to drink for a more uplifting and energizing result, which one is most effective at relieving your worries or what is best to drink after working out to relax your muscles.

Heurich said Kava has a “reverse tolerance”, meaning the more often you drink it, the less you’ll need in order to reach the desired effect because it “tunes your body.”

The Root’s drink menu also includes local Kombucha full of healthy probiotics, beverages with Kratom, which imparts a euphoric feeling considered a natural alternative to opioids, and on-tap CBD drinks (without psychoactive ingredients) to reduce inflammation. Heurich said the vegan hot chocolate they make from scratch is “the best hot chocolate in town.”

Regardless of which beverage you order, Heurich said his goal is to have you leave feeling better than when you walked in, and he hopes that good vibes will run a bit deeper with each Root customer.

The Root Kava Co. is located at 1641 28th Street, Boulder, and open from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Visit for events, the drink menu and more.


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