The owners of Melanin Café are serving a splash of Black history to Alabama patrons with every cup of coffee.
Founded by Catrice Hixon and her husband Jakyra Hixon, the Opelika-based café offers drinks named after what she says are lesser-known Black contributors and landmarks.
For example, the coconut-vanilla flavored espresso drink “Check-Up” represents Dr. John W. Darden, Opelika, Alabama’s first Black doctor, as reported in US News.
The shop’s green smoothie is known as “Kowaliga.” At the bottom of Lake Martin lies Kowaliga, Alabama – a town known to be the site of the first-ever Black-owned railroad, as we previously reported. It flooded when the construction of Martin Dam was complete, and Lake Martin was formed.
Hixon, however, is making sure the town is never forgotten.
“We learned about Black history in school, but we only got civil rights, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” she said in an interview. “I wanted to bring forward people we don’t really know about, people like inventors, scientists, and doctors.”
There are also drinks named after familiar Black historical events, groups, and organizations that helped shape both Black history and culture. Other drinks include the Black Panther” flavored with chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, as well as the “Bloody Sunday” espresso drink made with chocolate and white chocolate.
“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.”
In addition to being a place where you can learn about the history and an extraordinary group of people, the Hixons want Melanin Café to be a place where people come together.
“I just want this place to be inviting and relaxing. I want people to come to check out the vibes and atmosphere,” she explained. “You don’t even have to order anything; just come in. All I want to be is a simple community with a sense of family.”
The coffee shop is located at 1467 Fox Run Parkway in Opelika and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here to see the café’s full menu.