Born out of frustration, Hexe Coffee Co. aims to please with coffee, edgy desserts
The seeds — or rather beans — for Hexe Coffee were planted because owner Parker Slade was tired of spending more money than he wanted to on hot beverages.
The seeds — or rather beans — for Hexe Coffee Co. were planted because owner Parker Slade was tired of spending more money than he wanted to on hot beverages.
“I promised my wife it wouldn’t be a thing, that I was just messing around, that I’m not going to start a business,” said Slade, who ordered raw coffee beans online four years ago along with a Whirley popcorn popper to roast the beans by hand on the couple’s kitchen stove.
Slade had to break the vow he made to his wife when friends caught wind of his hobby and they and festival organizers made requests for his home-roasted coffee beans.
Soon, the Deerfield native was running his wholesale roastery in East Garfield Park, supplying specialty grocers, select bars and restaurants.
Then, roughly two months ago, Slade opened the doors to the edgy Hexe Coffee Co. on Diversey Parkway.
The corner cafe is set in the former leasing office of the historic Julia C. Lathrop Homes, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was redeveloped with some controversy with mixed-income housing and access to the riverwalk.
“I started looking, this space opened up. I live down the street and I just went for it, I didn’t think they [the developers] were going to pick me,” Slade said.
Hexe is drawing many java aficionados with its barrel-aged coffees and cold brew that is distributed to vendors like Eataly.
“We take the raw coffee bean, we put it in bourbon or rye barrels from local distillers,” Slade said. “The beans sit in the barrel and get funky and absorb all the aromas of the whisky and then we roast it out, so there’s no alcohol left but the taste is there.”
In addition to coffee, Hexe, which means “witch” in German, has a full bar with beers and wines on draft, sweet and savory pastries and a selection of charcuterie and cheeses.
If you visit, don’t skip out on the treats made by Dina Cimarusti, a pastry chef and baker who notably worked at Alliance Bakery for nearly a decade.
The seasonal scones, galettes and a strata are some of the customer favorites. On my recent stop, I tried the tender but sufficiently crumbly cheddar scones with the everything bagel seasoning.
The strata I had — a hybrid of a savory bread pudding and quiche made with eggs, heavy cream and stale bread — was flavored with kale, butternut squash, onion, garlic and spices.
And the seasonal galette, a freeform hybrid of a cake and pie, was a masterful combination of gruyere cheese, sautéed leeks, white beans, Swiss chard and garlic.
“My signature is a balance of flavors, I don’t like overly sweet, so I tone down sweetness with notes of acidity and savory,” said Cimarusti, who is also a special effects artist for the TV show “Chicago Med.”
“All of my cookies have salt on them and I love to bring in creative elements, try to make everything look as good as it tastes.”
Cimarusti’s sense of style and creativity comes through with cookies and specialty molds that she describes as “spooky, witchy and a little weird,” reflecting some of Hexe’s dark but welcoming decor. The exquisite iced shortbread cookie I sampled featuring a black snake with red roses that looked like it could be a tattoo.
Weekend specials include pop tarts, hot pockets, cinnamon rolls, muffins, cakes and pies. The beautiful rum cake in a vintage bundt cake mold was perfect with my cup of coffee. My eye also caught the strawberry cake made with almond meal with expertly piped strawberry icing garnished with freeze-dried strawberries and rose petals.
More savory food items are going to be rolled out in the weeks ahead, including sandwiches made on house-made focaccia and specialty casseroles and pot pies perfect for colder weather noshing.
In the meantime, there’s always the “FWB” [short for F–––––– Wisconsin Bastard] — a tray with a sleeve of Ritz crackers, beer cheese, summer sausage and two cans of Schlitz.
Hexe Coffee Co. is located at 2000 W. Diversey Parkway. Call (312) 525-2099 or visit www.hexecoffee.com