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Saeed Ebrahim and his father Hisham

Yemeni Tea on W. Liberty

The Ebrahims' cafe has a Middle Eastern accent.

by Sabine Bickford

From the August, 2019 issue

The west side's newest coffee shop, 19 Drips, opened in mid-June at W. Liberty and Stadium serving a selection of Middle Eastern and African-style snacks alongside standard American cafe fare. It's owned by Saeed Ebrahim and his father Hisham (who goes by their last name).

"Our biggest thing is probably the Adeni tea," says Saeed. "Everyone loves it." Named after his father's hometown in Yemen, it's a black tea mixed with spices and sweetened condensed milk. Other offerings include a very lightly roasted--"probably not even five minutes"--coffee modeled on a popular Middle Eastern style and a selection of roasts made primarily with Ethiopian beans. "It has such a fruity flavor in it, and it really brings out the brightness in the coffee," says Saeed. "Especially when you cold-brew it."

Saeed, nineteen, first became interested in coffee working right next door at Pilar's Tamales Cafe while attending Pioneer High. "I picked up a lot" from owner Sylvia Nolasco-Rivers, he says. "She's been so supportive of us." He graduated last year, around the time Nolasco-Rivers announced she would no longer be leasing the extra space next to her original cafe.

Ebrahim had been looking for a new career since losing his job as a mechanic at the former Fawzi's auto repair in 2016, and Saeed's passion for coffee was growing as he started a finance program at WCC and EMU. "I was going to a lot of coffee conventions, and we were like, 'You know what? Let's just open up a shop,'" Saeed says. They amped up their research, attending classes and studying lesser-known drinks. Ebrahim, who has friends in Ethiopia, visited farms and picked suppliers there.

A poster on the wall charts a mind-boggling number of coffee drinks, linking them together through brew method, ingredients, and serving style. "There's this plethora of ways to mix coffee," Saeed says excitedly, explaining a recent fascination with espresso-and-seltzer water combinations. The name 19 Drips comes from the number of drips, "give or take,"

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says Saeed, that go into their double-espresso shots.

They're the only staff so far, with Saeed primarily running the counter while Ebrahim does more of the behind-the-scenes work.

Saeed says he hopes to bring in some help before he starts up classes again in the fall. "He's a hard worker," says Ebrahim. "He's focusing on his career. I'm paving the road for him."

The inside is simple: tile floor, faux-brick panels, a counter against the window, and a few armchairs in the back. Saeed says people in the neighborhood are excited to have an independent coffee shop in the area. He estimates that over half their customers during the first two days "are coming from a mile away or less."

19 Drips, 2623 W. Liberty. (734) 585-0461. Sun.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 7 a.m.-11 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2019.]


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