In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, coffee professionals Brian Stoothoff, Sarah Elisabeth Huggins, and Adam Keita are making moves to open Daughter: a new community space, cafe, and wine bar. The concept, as described in its ongoing Kickstarter campaign, is planning to give 10% of proceeds to charitable causes and offer a free “family meal” in the late afternoon hours to help provide food security for the local community. With eleven days left of funding, Daughter has three quarters of its $50,000 goal on Kickstarter.
On a late summer afternoon in Brooklyn, I spent some time photographing Daughter’s Brian Stoothoff and Adam Keita, who are setting out on their own (alongside Huggins) after working previously for well-known NYC coffee companies like Sey Coffee, Partners, and Variety. But this is no 2020 pivot: Adam Keita's dream for Daughter has been been in various stages of planning for the last six years. Protests over the summer encourage Keita to act. “I became determined to not let this fire die,” Keita told me in the interview below. “To see so many Black souls like mine fighting for our place in this country and world, I decided my dream isn’t allowed to die, and that brought Daughter back from the edges of my desire.”
I spoke with Keita digitally from Brooklyn.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Who and what is Daughter?
I see! So—opening a cafe has been on mind for the past five or six years since I’ve been in coffee and community (the conversation) has been a part of my passion since day one. It wasn’t until last year that I decided that I needed to pursue [Daughter], with the original concept being Zero Waste with a focus on circular economy, which is something I learned while traveling.
Originally the dream was growing life on coffee waste, like mushrooms, wildflowers and etc… but then COVID hit and the grant I applied for vanished and to be honest my hope started vanishing at that point. It was when the protest began I became determined to not let this fire die, to see so many Black souls like mine fighting for our place in this country and world, I decided my dream isn’t allowed to die, and that brought Daughter back from the edges of my desire and gave it a second breath, a new breath, a breath-focused on the people next to us. So I reached out to my two friends, who are also my partners and my friend Cait who developed the Daughter design, and told them we need to fight.
So at Daughter, we built community into our infrastructure, in which every month 10% of our profits will be directed to organizations and projects we are passionate about, and at the end of the year, 20% of our saved profits will be donated to an individual in our community of Crown Heights as startup capital for any project they are dreaming to start. We are also planning to be a wine bar, so between the 4:00 and 5:00pm transition we plan to offer a family meal to our staff, but also share that family meal with any individual in the community who is in need of a meal, no questions asked. We are happy to have the keys to 1090 Saint Johns Place and are now doing a Kickstarter, raising the remaining funds to open her up.
The name was birthed from a term, “Daughter of the soil,” a term I learned in Berlin at a community farm. The term just highlights that what comes from the ground is the child of the earth, the Daughter. We felt it encompassed everything we wanted to do back then within our circular economy, but now I think it means closer to the literal name, Daughter, my child, my life. I think Daughter means dream now.
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Hey everyone, I’m Sarah, co-owner of Daughter. We are so thankful for the love and support we’ve received so far in this journey and eager to open our doors to our new Crown Heights family. ⠀ ⠀ I’ve worked in many cafes over the past five years and can confidently say that COMMUNITY is what made me fall in love with coffee. We strive to be a space dedicated to serving our neighbors, a space constantly being transformed by our community to meet its needs and desires. ⠀ ⠀ We are so excited to announce that we are close to reaching our Kickstarter goal and opening those doors! Check out the link in our bio for more info on our mission and to find out more about partnering with us to make these dreams a reality. We can’t wait to welcome you home.⠀ 📷 @anameizing
Talk to me about your transition to a brick and mortar. How did you find this space? What's the neighborhood like? What’s your timeline?
Well honestly we stumbled upon 1090 Saint Johns Place. We were window shopping for spaces back in June, dreaming out loud, but I believe it was maybe the first day of summer, I biked over to this space just to see what the face looked like, and to be honest, it wasn’t much then…but then I met Sharon, our next-door neighbor, and we just talked, she shared part of her life and I the same, two strangers making community, and at that moment I knew i wanted to be apart of this community.
Though not open, we’ve been at the space pretty much once a week, cleaning, sweeping, handing out free pour-overs with our doors wide open, inviting our neighbors to come in and break bread with us, and so many have.
I’ve learned from just the past two months that this community, the people, is all so open about its history, but also so supportive of any person who decides to stand with them.
We are aiming to get our doors open sometime this December, but in the meantime, we will be there every Saturday handing out free pour-overs with our neighbors.
What gear are you working on in the space? Why did you make those choices? Is there more stuff you plan to add in the coming months?
Well, we have been putting a lot of thought into the gear. We are excited to be using a Slayer in our space, complemented with a Nuova Simonelli Mythos, an Mahlkönig EK43, and the much-needed FETCO. The goal is to keep the bar uncluttered really, so we won’t go too crazy with gear, but will also offer some V60 options once we get our systems really into place.
Which roasters are you serving, and why? What have been some of your favorite coffees?
So I’m excited to bring Sey over to Crown Heights, not only because I find the coffee unique, but because of the transparency of their buying practices, and their ethical way of paying their staff. These are values we hold ourselves to and any businesses we decide to work with too.
As for favorite coffee, that’s hard, lately I’ve been drinking a lot of Black and White stuff and I must say they are killing it down there.
As a Black business owner, what has community support felt like? Talk to us about this experience in your own words.
Surprising and surreal. To be a business owner carried a weight of imposter syndrome but I’ve come to realize it’s only because of my Blackness that it weighed so much more on my heart. “Am I good enough, do I deserve to have my own space?” These were the things rolling in my mind for the past couple of years, but the past few months have shaken that noise in my mind, seeing so many Black souls like mine saying we are worthy. I am worth it, my dream for Daughter is worth it and this community we will take place in is worth it.
Our mission for the wine and food program is accessibility and honesty. Natural wines that are mind-blowing but don’t need to break the bank, and food that tells our story (my partners and mine). Honestly, plantain bread over banana bread, that’s where our mind is.
Community enrichment seems to be a core value/goal. How are you approaching this aim?
Well by building it into our foundation from day one. We have two major things we plan to do. Daughter will launch a project, still being designed, to share free meals each day between 4:00 and 5:00pm to individuals in need, no questions asked. We call this project the Family Meal. And another major move is that we will offer a percentage of our profits per month, to support organizations, individuals, and projects that we believe in. Community was something I was born with, The Bronx and Harlem nurtured it, now I plan to share it.
What will opening in winter look like considering the new COVID reality?
Challenging if I’m being real, but we see those few months to truly serve our community. For better or worse, in rain or snow, we shall be there to serve, feed, and talk to our neighbors.
How can people support your opening?
We are currently crowdfunding the remaining funds needed to get Daughter doors open through Kickstarter and we are so close to being funded but we need everyone’s help on this. So please, if you can, donate.