DeBeen Espresso, one of the Triad’s oldest coffee shops, has opened a location in Winston-Salem.
DeBeen opened in mid-December at 231 E. Fifth St. in the Innovation Quarter, offering a full-line of coffee drinks, tea, smoothies, gelato and in-house baked goods.
Owner Debbie Maier, a native of Washington state, opened the first DeBeen in 1997 at 709 W. Lexington Ave. in High Point, after family members talked her into the idea. She was just 20 years old.
“At first it was kind of a joke,” Maier said. “I wasn’t even a coffee drinker then, but I was from Washington (home of Starbucks and America’s burgeoning coffee mania) and my aunt had moved here to North Carolina. My dad came to visit her and said I should come open a coffee shop because there was nowhere to get good coffee.”
She eventually did some research, spending time in Seattle, and decided to take the plunge. She and her friend Venus Shaver moved east and opened DeBeen — choosing the name from a merging of their nicknames Deb and Veen.
Shaver departed after a few months, but Maier stuck with it. “I didn’t have any money, so it was very Bohemian. People would give me tables and chairs, or friends would find old furniture on the side of the road,” Maier said.
In the early years, Maier worked other jobs, including ones as a volleyball coach and fabric sales rep. Many of her early customers were in the furniture business. At one point, she had a furniture accessories store within the coffee shop. Later, she converted an unused portion of the space into a yoga studio.
Her life partner, artist Tim Dudley, painted graffiti-style murals on the walls. Maier put in a water fountain and koi pond in the middle of the shop. Both features have been repeated in the Winston-Salem location, on the ground floor of new Link Apartments building at Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue.
Maier said the idea of opening a second location hit her only recently after giving a speech to young professionals about being an entrepreneur. “After that, I started thinking to myself, ‘Why am I afraid to take the next step?'”
So after 20 years in the business with just the one shop, Maier and a friend hopped in a car one day and drove to Winston-Salem. “I always liked the vibe in Winston-Salem,” Maier said. “And within five minutes that day, I found this building.”
The opening was delayed somewhat by the coronavirus pandemic. Though the shop has been open a couple of weeks, Maier was still hanging artwork and finishing construction of her water fountain at the end of December.
But the shop was otherwise fully functional. Maier said that DeBeen has a large menu compared to some other shops. There are about a dozen each of hot and cold coffee drinks, not including espressos or a handful of frozen drinks. There is also tea and smoothies, as well as nitro coffee and kombucha on tap. An Americano runs from $2.50 for 8 ounces to $3.75 for 20 ounces. A standard espresso is $2 for one shot or $3.50 for four. Blender drinks run from $5 to $7.
Signature drinks include the Chai-Coffski, or chai tea with a shot of espresso, and the brown sugar latte. “I invented the brown sugar latte for people who drank sweetened tea,” Maier said. “It was something to help people make the transition to coffee.”
Maier said she offers 28 different flavors for drinks — including green mint, marshmallow, gingerbread, tiramisu and macadamia nut. “Some of them are seasonal. But everything in the shop is customizable,” she said. “You can get any drink with any flavor.”
Maier uses Fortuna Coffee, based in Greensboro, for all but her super dark blend, which comes from Rad Roasting Co. in Kent, Wash. Her cow’s milk is from Homeland Creamery in Julian, N.C. — though she also offers oat, coconut, soy and almond milk.
The shop offers a selection of vegan gelato, including such flavors as cantaloupe and chocolate mint. The gelato is currently made by Advanced Gourmet, but Maier expects it to be made in-house by the spring.
All baked goods are currently made in-house. Though the High Point shop offers a mix of conventional and vegan baked goods, all of the baked goods in Winston-Salem are vegan. They include muffins, scones, cookies and energy bars. The shop also sells such items as granola, hot oatmeal and chia pudding.