We have a few hard and fast rules here at What to Eat in Birmingham. They include: 1. Do NOT blog about beverages, something we know virtually nothing about. 2. Do NOT blog based on preview events, because a preview event is typically reserved for a select few, and the experience is typically different (read: better) than the run-of-the-mill customer will experience. 3. DO blog anonymously, so as not to receive any special treatment (see also rule #2).
Rules are obviously made to be broken, and we cannot think of a better reason to break these rules than Domestique Coffee. We have been quietly following Domestique for about two years, since they previewed their nitro cold brew at a Design Week Birmingham event. It left a big impression on us as coffee that was better than anything we had ever tasted. We soon became friends with Nathan, one of the two brothers at the heart of the venture, and his wife Krysta. We learned that Nathan, a filmmaker, and his brother Michael had recently traveled throughout Haiti to make a documentary. Also, they are what we would describe as hard-core coffee nerds – a big compliment. Their travel experience and love of coffee inspired them to start a Birmingham-based company dedicated to free trade that sources primarily from Haiti, a country that before its recent economic woes, was the source of much of the world’s best coffee.
Over the course of the past two years, we continued to taste test their coffee at Hero Doughnut pop-ups and at Woodlawn Cycle cafe. It just got better and better. We knew that something big was brewing for them – pun intended.
See, even coffee dunces like Mr. Foodie and I can taste why Domestique’s coffee is so unique. When you drink their nitro cold brew or their freshly roasted hot coffee, you realize that there’s no bitter taste. The nitro is creamy and refreshing, and their hot coffee is savory and smooth. Neither requires any adulteration with cream and sugar – doing so would be a bit of a faux pas, and it really doesn’t need it. Just enjoy it black, sit back, and prepare for a powerful caffeine jolt. It’s a totally unique coffee-drinking experience.
We’ve watched Domestique grow from an idea, to a small-batch pop-up-only deal, to something much bigger. About a year ago, the hard-working, talented, self-starter crew of four – owners and founders Nathan and Michael, Krysta, and friend Jared – purchased an old building previously used for prop design at 3017 6th Avenue South in Lakeview. Through painstaking elbow grease, ingenuity, and design guidance from the gifted and increasingly famous local architect Jared Fulton, they transformed the space. It didn’t hurt that they got some additional funds, and notoriety, from Birmingham’s Big Pitch competition in November.
All of that built up to this past Saturday night, when they held an open house of their new digs. This event included viewing their amazing space, tasting their delicious nitro cold brew as well as hot roasted coffees, and noshing on gourmet snacks made by the inspiring Krysta, who also collaborated on burning the wood for the roaster room (more to come on that in a second). Their product is reliably outstanding, so preview party or not, anonymous or not, we are confident that Domestique is 150% blogworthy.
So, foodie friends, sit back and let us take you on a tour. If you were there, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and reflections.
Entering the beautiful building:
Designer: Lindsey Motlow.
Designer: Andrew Thompson, Plenty Design Co-op.
The furniture sits on either side of the coffee display. Here’s Nathan making a sale!
A shout-out to Krysta’s mad food skills. She made this amazing food spread, including the chocolate, which is bean to bar, dark, and outrageously delicious. She’ll be launching her line of chocolates soon… stay tuned.
Here’s the crown jewel-the roaster. It sits inside this glass-enclosed box, which Krysta says was the brainchild of architect Jared Fulton. The wood was burned by Krysta’s brother Ean, Krysta, and Nathan, by hand, using a technique called Shou-sugi-ban Yakisugi.
Here’s the nitro apparatus: on its own, and then in use by Michael:
A cup of nitro coffee. Hand model: Jacob.
According to the group of four, Domestique will be opening in the next few weeks. How will we know they are open? “When the shades are open, were open,” Nathan told me. They will have regular hours, TBD. You will be able to buy their coffee by the bag, and they will have regular tastings. You can also purchase their coffee via the Venmo app by typing @domestique-coffee, or by using this web link: https://venmo.com/domestique-coffee.
To sum it up, Krysta, Nathan, Michael, and Jared are four up-and-coming food and beverage entrepreneurs to watch in Birmingham. This isn’t just about coffee-it’s about entrepenurism, grit, and making change in our growing city. It wasn’t just the caffeine. Being at this event, and seeing first-hand how this new business is going to bring more life to this area of town, gave Mr. Foodie and I the warm fuzzies, and some palpitations.