A portion of the proceeds from the coffee company’s Pride-inspired drink will be donated to the nonprofit Lambert House.
BY SARAH ALLEN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Nathan Lowe
The queer community in and around the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle has long relied on mainstay roasting company Caffe Vitta for its coffee fix and welcoming vibe, so it was only natural that Caffe Vita’s in-house drink innovator Natasha Solowoniuk created a special drink to commemorate the city’s celebration of Pride.
The Cherry Stardust is a fun, delicious, and complex drink composed of a maraschino cherry-infused cold brew, topped with a bergamot cold foam and edible gold stars. And there’s a surprise at the bottom: a whole cherry as a special treat. Delicious though it is, perhaps the coolest thing about the Cherry Stardust is that $1 of every drink sold is being donated to Lambert House, an international leader in LGBTQ+ youth community building that empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth through the development of leadership, social, and life skills.
“The first and most important part of building our Pride drink was making sure we weren’t simply profiting off LGBTQ+ inclusivity, but rather actually giving back to an organization doing work for our queer community in the neighborhood,” says Natasha. “We didn’t just want to throw some glitter in it or make it rainbow and call it Pride, but actually take it seriously while having fun.”
Caffe Vita, which has locations in New York and Portland, Ore., as well as Seattle, is also donating $2 from every bag of its Pride Blend to Lambert House.
Lambert House is particularly special to Natasha. “I’ve been a Seattleite my whole life and I’ve worked on Capitol Hill since I was 18,” she says. “My first girlfriend took me to Lambert House when I was 14, coming from a troubled home, and it held me.”
Natasha first started experimenting with food and drink recipes when she worked as a cook at Corvus & Co. on Capitol Hill. “I began experimenting with flavors and branching out from traditional food and beverages,” she says. “It’s kind of like Ratatouille: I just let the flavors pop off.”
Her favorite beverage that she has created is the Barrel-Aged Irish Cold Brew she made when Caffe Vita partnered with Batch 206 Distillery in Seattle to make a barrel-aged coffee. “I made a bourbon barrel-aged Kyoto cold brewed coffee and topped that with maple micro-foam and cinnamon,” Natasha says.
Still, the Cherry Stardust is a special one for Natasha simply for what Pride means to her and all of Caffe Vita. “I’ve been out since I was 13 years old,” she says. “I’ve normalized it by making it known in my workplace that that’s who I am. Why not work for a place that’s welcoming to who you are? Pride means being proud of what we’re doing every single day. I’m proud to be surrounded by queer community at Caffe Vita and in Capitol Hill. Our café is lucky to be in Seattle’s unofficial gay district, with rainbow walkways and gay bars.”
“But [Pride] is about more than adding a rainbow to your logo for a month,” Natasha continues. “It’s showing up every single day. It’s being there for your people. It’s building a community around great coffee and giving back to that community, which is what we’re doing with the Cherry Stardust and our Pride Blend. We’re giving back to our neighbors to build out further resources for future generations.”