She is waking everybody up with this coffee!
When Catrice Hixon opened Melanin Cafe, she knew it would be about more than just coffee. The shop, located in Opelika, a town in Southern Alabama, serves coffee, smoothies, and pastries, but it's about more than that. Her real mission was to educate, inspire and unite Black Enterprise reports.
Each of Hixon's 38 beverages at the cafe all spread a drop of little-known Black history, all of them named after an influential historical Black figure that most may not have heard of. The "Big Bank" is named after investor Bernard S. Garrett; the "Sci-Fi" pays tribute to author Octavia Butler, "The Resistance" is an ode to Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt.
"I wanted to bring forward people we don't really know about, people like inventors, scientists, and doctors. I just want to bring all of those people to the forefront, so we know who they are and what they contributed to this country. It'll inspire us to do things because representation matters. If we're not seeing people that look like us do different things, we're not really inspired," Hixon told reporters.
The coffee shop owner also uses her products to share a history that's not so pretty, like the Kowaliga, a green smoothie named after a once-thriving Black community in Alabama. It was home to the first Black-owned railroad. The town was flooded in 1926 to make room for a dam and now sits at the bottom of Lake Martin, one of many Black "drowned towns" forgotten.
Hixon works with her husband Jakyra and sister Crystal Slaughter to make the cafe "inviting and relaxing." The family-operated business creates a family-like atmosphere that keeps customers coming back. For Hixon, it's more than just the money; it's about her purpose. Even if visitors don't purchase anything from the cafe, she invites them to learn the meaning behind each Melanin Cafe beverage by visiting the "Culture Corner" on their website.
"I just want this place to educate people, inspire people, and bring everyone together. If we learn about each other, we can coexist with each other," Hixon said.
Thank you for your contribution, Catrice! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Melanin Cafe