Caffe Dei’s one-year anniversary BBQ wrap-up

Why hello, VM readers! It’s been a while! Travels and more traveling this summer (my favorite time of the year) have sadly rendered me behind in posts, but I promise that I have tons of photos and post material, ready to be set free in the very near future to make up for that absence.

First off, let’s pick up where I left off: Caffe Dei’s 1-year anniversary party. Shortly before the event started on the evening of July 1, Lisa (co-planner of the first ever Tacoma Vegan Bake Sale), our friend Crystal, and I were being interviewed outside of the cafe by a friend/reporter of the Tacoma Weekly for this article on Caffe Dei’s successful first year as well as the growing vegan community in the city. Check out the article and read my, Lisa’s, Crystal’s and Shane/Shuanna’s thoughts!

And now, here are a few snapshots from the anniversary party/mega vegan BBQ:

In addition to celebrating the birthday of a wonderful new vegetarian/vegan-friendly business to the neighborhood, this sign advertises what was (understandably) the main draw for many: burgers that were advertised as being as big as your head, in one of two types: classic or BBQ. I went with classic (I had to), but a few friends went for the BBQ and enjoyed them and their spicy kick, too. Kettle Chips rounded out the plates, that were already filled as it was. See below:

Yeah, these happened. The side view, complete with trimmings, monster bun, and…

aerial, complete with my friends’ plate of demolished burger goodness, our beers and wine, (that was my first Trippel and holy wow, was it tasty) in addition to cupcakes. Because clearly, all of this generously-portioned food wasn’t enough to sate us this Friday evening!

Staff worked hard that night and proved they can accomplish any vegan meal task they choose to take up, and I saw many individuals even opting to get some plates to go.

Patrons reveling in post-gigantic burger bliss.

And others enjoyed the warm weather and good company with burgers out-of-doors.

The event was also such a success and the burgers were so highly lauded that Caffe Dei decided to make them a more regular staple. They are now available for enjoyment on the weekends. I have to attest that they are the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had, and I’m really not a huge veggie burger fan! Get in and try one, (as well as any of their delightful iced coffee and tea beverages) soon!

A sneak peek of posts to come: Vegan Iron Chef, a  summery breakfast recipe, California eats and more Tacoma Food Co-Op updating.

And now, a question: with all of this (glorious) heat finally hitting the Northwest, what are your favorite, oven-free meals to make to keep cool, as well as make use of seasonal produce?

 

One year young: Caffe Dei celebrates their first anniversary Friday

Tacoma’s heralded vegan/vegetarian coffee shop and cafe celebrates a landmark event tomorrow evening: one whole year in business on 6th Ave. In addition, they celebrate continuously bringing in some of the best single origin specialty coffee roasters and using them to create fantastic espresso-based drinks and proving to people of all dietary preferences that vegan and vegetarian food is delicious.

Photo courtesy of the Caffe Dei Facebook page

I first visited Caffe Dei the week that they opened for business last summer so that I could interview owners Shane Siegfried and Shuanna Holt about their cafe, (it was for work but my motivations were purely selfish – I wanted the lowdown on the new [mostly] vegan place!). I sat down and chatted with both and started to understand in that short time that they both genuinely wanted more – in terms of both better coffee and vegan options – for Tacoma. Since then, new roasters have been featured and impeccably crafted espresso beverages have accompanied them. In addition, the food menu has evolved and changed shape many times for the better. Emphasis has moved from focusing mostly on sandwiches to starting to integrate more living and raw foods into the menu, a personal passion of Holt’s. New products, including beer, wine, books, bulk items and homemade snacks (kale chips and raw trail mix, anyone?) have been incorporated and have proven to be a beneficial delight to customers.

Delicious raw pesto noodle dish

It’s no secret that I foster a lot of love for this establishment. There haven’t been many weeks that have passed by since Caffe Dei opened that I haven’t been in at least once, be it for coffee, lunch with a friend, or grabbing a quick breakfast sandwich to go. I can’t single out just one reason why I appreciate this business as much as I do, but rather know that it’s the combination of many factors. I went over a few more reasons as to why it’s a business worthy of your time here, and they all stand the test of time. Clearly, Caffe Dei was an institution that was much needed in Tacoma, and I for one am thrilled that they’re here and thriving.

My favorite breakfast item on Dei's menu, the aforementioned original breakfast sandwich.

Those who also appreciate Caffe Dei being a part of the neighborhood can come out to the Vegan BBQ Extravaganza party that they’re throwing in celebration of their first birthday tomorrow night. They held a similar burger/brat BBQ last year and I missed it, and I kicked myself for that for weeks. The burgers looked like they were the size of your head and paired with smoothies, they are the perfect summer treat. They’re bringing them back along with beers, (hooray for liquor licenses!), entertainment and more. Here’s the lowdown from their Facebook event page:

To celebrate us turning 1 AND to get a jump start on the 4th of July, we will be doing a HUGE Vegan BBQ party on the 1st! We will be dishing out HUGE homemade burgers and brats. Throw in some summer fruit smoothies or some beers and call it good! Get a good start to your Friday night with a pre-party BBQ with us. This party will be happening at 5pm-8pm. We will be running beer and other drink specials all night. Throw on your flip flops and get a burger! Invite your friends and let us entertain and feed you! We encourage street poi dancers, hoop performers and perhaps limbo performers (we are serious). Come on down to support one of Tacoma’s only truly animal loving food establishments!

Celebrate the beginning of your holiday weekend by getting in all the vegan BBQ food that you (may) not be getting at the Fourth BBQs you’ll be attending, all while hobnobbing with good people and taking in quality entertainment. See you there!

Deets:
Where: 2607 6th Ave.
When: Friday, July 1, 5-8 p.m.
What: A birthday party! A vegan one!
Why: Because we’re so happy they exist
Info: (253) 572-2550 or check out their Facebook page

Caffe Dei: the quality coffee/vegan food champs of 6th Ave.

Caffe Dei is the only all-vegetarian/vegan coffee shop/cafe that exists in Tacoma and when it arrived last summer it was to the delight of many a local vegan. With a dual focus on providing some of the best coffee in Tacoma as well as making more vegan and vegetarian food available to the community, Caffe Dei quickly proved itself as an institution in the city.

Taken many moons ago, shortly after Caffe Dei opened. Their 'sammiches' are a definite staple of mine.

 

I’ve interviewed Shuanna Holt and Shane Siegfried (owners of the business) before but that article came out long ago and so much has changed since then. One of the elements of Caffe Dei that I’ve truly come to appreciate and value that you really don’t see everywhere in the city is the fact that the business is always changing, evolving and adding new elements to it for the better. And as a result of this, customers get to experience these great additions as they frequent the shop.

Let’s get one thing out in the open before I go any further: first and foremost, Caffe Dei is a coffee shop. Shuanna has been a barista, coffee shop manager and roaster, and thus has worked every possible job in coffee. Shane has worked in the food industry and in food management for many years as well. Holt’s wanted to own her own business for years, and now with Caffe Dei, she keeps her coffee roots and still is able to cater to local vegetarians, vegans, those who are gluten-free and now to raw foodists as well. The shop is constantly featuring a new coffee roaster, and only features what they feel are the finest beans they can offer their customers, both in espresso form inhouse or in bags of beans to be purchased and enjoyed later at home. The current batch available is from Barefoot in Santa Clara, CA.

I could go on for ages about both the food and drinks created in this place as I’ve tried almost everything they offer (that’s vegan), but for brevity’s sake, I’ll just review one item out of each major menu.

The selection of house drinks at Caffe Dei is rich and feature spins on traditional coffeehouse offerings. The Arancione Moka is a mocha that features dark chocolate, steamed milk and fresh orange zest, the Picante Mocha boasts steamed milk, Mexican chocolate and a healthy dose of cayenne pepper, but my hands down favorite is the Sasquatch. A love child of the Americano and cappuccino, the Sasquatch is the one that I order nearly every time. Composed of just the right amount of foam and milk of choice (they offer regular milk, hemp, rice and soy) and perfectly pulled espresso, the Sasquatch is the ideal espresso-laced beverage. Caffe Dei features loose, fragrant teas galore that are created locally for those who opt out of extreme caffeination, (all can be ordered traditionally or iced) and as of very recently offers a few carefully selected wine offerings available both by the glass and bottle.

Front and center near the register and espresso machine are an impressive spread of pastries. The cafe brings in Seattle-based Macrina Bakery harvest breads for sandwiches, cupcakes, muffins, macaroons and more, some of which are vegan, some aren’t. The other half of their baked goods come from Flying Apron Bakery based in Fremont, (vegan, gluten-free, sometimes sugar-free) and their offerings include scones, cookies, banana bread and others. The cinnamon roll (below) is huge, flavorful and definitely takes a spin on the classic in its gluten-free form, yet definitely exudes a rich, sweet and savory flavor that’s perfect with any cup of coffee, anytime the day.

A cinnamon roll and a Sasquatch.

A few sandwiches are offered daily and most appeal to vegans in multiple grilled forms. Though I’ve tried all of them, I’d have to say that the breakfast sandwich – ciabatta bread with a house-made tofu scramble, vegan sausage, onions, a creamy, savory sauce and Daiya cheese for a bit extra (so worth it) – is my favorite. I don’t just order it for breakfast, I’ve also been known to order it for lunch or dinner. It’s that versatile and downright tasty.

Within the past month, Caffe Dei has extended their menu to be four pages, and two new sections added to it are the quinoa bowls and the raw salads. I sat down not long ago and was treated to a veritable “sampler platter” if you will of a mix of both of these new offerings, and out of them, a couple stood out to my taste buds.

A spread of samples of three new menu items. I ate like a queen this day.

The Kickin’ Cowboy Quinoa Salad combines greens, carrots, cucumber, fluffy quinoa, faux chicken strips, a homemade barbecue sauce, bell peppers and a nice surprise of black beans. Another sauce created for this dish is composed of tahini and garlic and has a thick, creamy texture that gives an even greater depth of flavor to the meal. I thought this bowl delicious, spicy and something that I could see myself consuming often. Though it’s composed of many elements, everything is evenly distributed, offering a filling meal filled with fresh ingredients.

My favorite of the new raw additions was hands down the Diamond Dragon Eye bowl. Filled with greens, cabbage, lightly steamed broccoli, grated carrot, sesame seeds, spiralized zucchini noodles, a tamari/sesame/ginger sauce with a kick and the centerpiece – kelp noodles – this bowl has got a lot of great things going on. This was my first time trying kelp noodles and though they have a unique texture, don’t let them scare you away as they add to the dish. Every element is crunchy, light and all is balanced with the signature savory strong sauce. You have to try it, and soon. Even if you rarely eat raw, this will make you want to try your hand at experimenting with it more. I consider this and the other additions to the raw side of the menu to be some of Shuanna’s most creative and inspired dishes offered at her cafe, and you can truly tell that these are a labor of love and dedication to her own raw foodism.

Last but not least, is an item that I actually have yet to try, but have heard some already rave about: the new dessert item, affagato. Composed of organic ice cream (vegan options available) with fresh shots of espresso pulled directly over them and topped off with a 100% dark Dutch chocolate, the affagato is a coffee + chocolate lover’s dream come true. While some may have coffee and a dessert post-meal, this new item allows you to combine both into one decadently sweet dish.

Caffe Dei also prides itself on being a true green business, and it recycles, composts and tries to create as little waste as possible. And they’re always looking to improve in this arena. On top of this, Shuanna has started some in-shop raw food prep courses (a two-day Raw 101 class and a 4-week intermediate raw course) to teach others how they can create delicious raw meals right in their own homes. As these types of classes are generally only offered north in Seattle, anyone interested in learning more about the raw lifestyle truly has an inspiration and generous resource here in Shuanna.

After reading all of this, you still won’t fully comprehend how wonderful Caffe Dei is until you go yourself. I’m not just talking about the drinks and the food either. The knowledgeable and friendly owners and baristas, the comfortable, open and inviting space, the art that changes monthly on the walls and the regulars who have taken up residence in their chairs also make it worth experiencing. I’m so glad that Caffe Dei is a part of the neighborhood and the community and that they are definitely helping Tacomans realize that vegan food can taste amazing and be served up in an inviting and welcoming fashion.

Caffe Dei is located at 2607 6th Ave. and is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the shop at (253) 572-2550 or check out their Facebook page.