When Catrice Hixon worked as a barista in college, she would create off-menu beverages for customers, playing around with the different syrups, beans, and milks to create the perfect cup. She knew, even then, that she would open up her own coffee shop one day.
Melanin Cafe is a Black-owned coffee shop in Opelika, Alabama, that celebrates coffee, culture, and Blackness. The café features local Opelika history on its menu, and the drinks are named after important African-American leaders, sayings, and events. The “Rebel” is a dark roast composed of tart, citric, and acidic blends; the “Black Ice” has chocolate and graham tones and subtle hints of fruit. The café’s name, too, refers to the valuing of people of every skin color.
But it’s the espresso menu where Hixon’s love for coffee and culture comes to life. The “Aerospace” is named after Mary Jackson, the first black engineer at NASA, the “Feelin’ Good” pays homage to Nina Simone’s classic hit, and the “Black Panther,” of course, is named after Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party. Each shot is made with combinations of vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, and hazelnut.
The café is a family affair. Catrice’s husband Jax Nixon is a co-owner and barista, and her sister Crystal Slaughter is the baker, making sweet treats and desserts including brownies, cream cheese danishes, and red velvet cupcakes.
Know Before You Go
Visit the Melanin Cafe website to search for your drink’s name and learn the history of the people and places behind each drink.