Imagine a café where you can get your daily cup of coffee and a history lesson at the same time. Catrice and Jakyra Hixon’s coffee shop — Melanin Café — does just that.
The café is even more of a family affair with Hixon’s sister, Crystal Slaughter, as part of the team as the café’s baker.
Black history is cleverly taught through the café’s menu in that “every drink has a name associated with lesser-known Black contributors and landmarks.”
“We learned about Black history in school, but we only got civil rights, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” Hixon said. “I wanted to bring forward people we don’t really know about, people like inventors, scientists and doctors.”
Their menu also puts a focus on the local Opelika history, such as a drink named after Dr. John W. Darden — Opelika’s first Black doctor.
“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,” Hixon said. “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.”
While being a cafe owner by day and a PhD student in biology by night, Hixon aims for the Melanin Café to be a safe space that serves up not just coffee, but also knowledge and inspiration.
“I just want this place to be inviting and relaxing. I want people to come check out the vibes and atmosphere,” she said. “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.”