The exterior of Kavasutra Kava Bar on East Colfax in Denver. The cafe remains open but it’s not possible to see inside as windows have been covered with paper. Kavasutra has a second location on West Colfax in Lakewood. (Beth Rankin, The Denver Post)

Kavasutra Kava Bar, a cafe chain that specializes in a drink made with kava root and has locations in both Denver and Lakewood, is catching flack online after a series of Instagram posts calling teachers’ unions “trash,” asserting that masks are “for leftist losers,” calling Coloradans “pussy leftists” and “banning” any teacher who does not voluntarily return to in-person teaching.

“Effective immediately: Any and all grade school teachers who, by choice, have opted not to return to in-person teaching are hereby banned from any and all Kavasutra locations,” reads the first post from March 9, though the original version was in all capital letters. “Furthermore, masks may not be worn in Arizona or Florida locations. New York and Colorado are a bunch of pussy leftists so they can cover their mouths with a dirty cloth.”

Along with locations at 1232 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver and 9797 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood, the kava bar has cafes in New York City, Phoenix and 12 locations in Florida. In New York and Colorado, businesses are currently subject to mask mandates.

A few hours after the first post, Kavasutra posted again.

“It has come to our attention that we may have upset some people with our last post. We’ve been reading your comments and we understand how we may have effected (sic) some of you, so we want to be very clear: masks are for leftist losers. Teachers unions are trash. Women are born with ovaries. And we are doing slams at midnight tonight.” (Slams are shots of kava, a tea that Kavasutra claims can make drinkers feel relaxed.)

Whether or not every Kavasutra location is enforcing its policy to ban certain teachers — or how they would establish which customers are teachers to begin with — is hard to ascertain because the cafe’s employees promptly hang up on anyone who asks about masks or the business’ comments about teachers.

In photos tagged at the Lakewood location, groups of seated and unseated customers are gathered in close proximity without masks. A video from Feb. 23, posted to a second Kavasutra Instagram account, shows one such unmasked group with the caption, “Rocket League Tournamnet (sic) in Lakewood on Mondays!”

We reached out to locations in other states to confirm their mask policy but were promptly hung up on by more than a dozen employees.

This isn’t the first time the cafe has drawn ire over what appear to be intentionally controversial social media posts. In 2018, the chain of kava bars angered social media users with sexist and transphobic content that management blamed on an employee they said was promptly fired, according to reporting from Westword. But after an argument over the posts turned into a physical altercation at a Florida location, Kavasutra’s owner, Dylan Harrison, admitted to police that he was responsible for the hate speech-filled posts, according to a report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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