Only have a minute? Listen instead
WESLACO — It’s early afternoon, and the fall colors drift across the walls and the windows and the glass doors.
The growling and hissing and rumbling of the coffee machine signal the presence of a fine Kenyan coffee and its partner from Colombia.
I find a quiet and peaceful sanctuary in the small dining area of Black Brew Company at 512 S. Westgate Dr. in Ste. G1. Soft music drifts through the smells of caramel macchiatos and coconut mochas and cozy lavender coffees.
Black Brew Company is celebrating it’s one year anniversary, and the cause of its success shows in every movement, every nuance, every sight, sound and aroma of its presence.
“It feels amazing,” says Owner Nathan Ondeyo, 23.
“I thank God for all that he has done including the amazing people that he has surrounded me with,” Nathan says. “From my family, to the team, to our loyal customers — it seems as if everything has started to work out.”
Nathan’s family hails from Kenya, but he was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The family moved to the Valley when he was 3 years old. His mother Debbie Moturi teaches nursing at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and his father Silas Moturi owns Donna Assisted Living in Donna.
The apparent discrepancy in the names is actually a cultural detail most intriguing and refreshing in the newness of it. Debbie Moturi is a member of the Luhya tribe and Silas Moturi is Kisii. In accordance with Kisii cultural practices, Nate’s last name is his father’s middle name, and so it will be with his family.
“My family made sure that I was exposed to our true heritage despite growing up in a predominantly Hispanic area,” he said.
Nathan graduated from IDEA Weslaco College Prep in 2018 and attended Ohio State University until 2021 when he left to pursue his entrepreneurial goals.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and great mentors with my parents teaching me all there is to run a business,” he said. “They and a majority of my family have careers in the healthcare industry, but I took down a different path.”
Back in the coffee shop in the early afternoon I take a pumpkin spice latte made from a Kenyan AA coffee bean and it is fine and tasty and refreshing in this appealing and quiet place. I say Black Brew Company is appealing for many reasons.
It is a small and cozy and intimate place with clean tables and a separate study room. There is an impressive functionality about the shop which enhances the aromas and the sounds and the colors; it reveals an admirable talent for design.
Long shelves of books placed tastefully through the partition of the place and within full view of the tables adds the additional statement that this is place of quiet study as well as good coffee.
My latte is warm and sweet and creamy and I sip the coffee while observing in the shelves a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano,” Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” and Erwin Rommel’s “Infantry Attacks.” I’m especially intrigued by this book by the famed German officer from World War II whose talent on the field of battle even earned him the respect of his opponents, in particular U.S. Army General George Patton.
Rommel’s “Infantry Attacks” tells the stories of his World War I experiences, and it sits alongside the requisite collection of novels by John Grisham, James Patterson and Tom Clancy.
A young couple recently arrived here from Minnesota walks in, and they have already the manner of familiarity as they use the Clover App in the process of placing their orders. A certain number of points on the Clover App earns the customer a free drink.
They are Evan and Cecilia Kellen, both 23, and they are looking for a quiet and relaxing place with good coffee. They knew they didn’t want a noisy and crowded place of chaos and intensity.
“Yesterday was our first day and I think we are going to be regulars,” says Evan.
“There are books you can just pick up from the shelf,” Ceclia said.
The books and the silences accentuate more fully the feeling of a good place to study, she says, unlike larger busier places with clashing noises.
I return the following morning at about 8 a.m. Aliyah Meza, a trainer, says the morning rush hour of students and those on their way to work has just ended. More will certainly come in soon.
Aliyah shows a warm and enthusiastic knowledge of coffee.
“The Kenyan AA bean, it’s very luxurious and creamy and pairs very well with our syrups,” she says.
Nathan has garnered an extensive knowledge of coffee through YouTube, market research, and trial and error. Recently he has begun traveling to learn more about coffee, specifically to Colombia and Kenya.
He knows a great deal about the Kenyan bean.
“What makes this bean stand out is definitely its flavor profile,” he said. “I tend to see that people are used to darker, caramelly and chocolatey taste notes when it comes to coffee, but this coffee offers more of a fruity, sweet delivery.”
Mmmmm, coffee! Good coffee.
Soon he’ll add more coffees to his menu, and then breakfast bagel sandwiches and fruit smoothies and baked goods and …