‘About the connection:’ Alicia’s Coffee opens in downtown Vincent

Published 11:46 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

VINCENT – Shelby County resident Naimah Elmore was looking down at the cup of coffee she was drinking one morning in 2020 when an idea materialized.

Elmore was talking to her business partner, Rashard “Roc” Harrell, and like many people, she was wondering what the future would bring in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elmore had been managing music artists and working at a hotel in the Inverness area, but the pandemic-induced shutdown left her without both jobs.

“I said, ‘I feel like I’m going crazy. I need to do something,’” Elmore recalled. “I was on the phone with my business partner, and I said, ‘We are going to invest in coffee.’”

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Elmore started doing her homework. She researched how to start a coffee business and reached out to a roaster in Chicago, who sent her some samples to try.

“It was the best coffee I thought I had,” she said. “I don’t like my coffee to have an aftertaste or to give you the jitters. I’m about quality.”

Elmore said she worked with CustomCoffees in Illinois to create her own Brazilian blend.

Elmore took her bags of freshly ground coffee to events and pop-up shops, giving away much of it in the form of free samples, a process she called the “try it before you buy it” approach.

“A lot of people thought I was crazy,” she said. “You’ve got to see it through when it feels right.”

Elmore started selling her bags of coffee online in 2020 while building up her inventory and collecting feedback from customers.

“We were learning through the process,” she said. “It just helped us to grow.”

In 2022, Elmore earned opportunities to be involved with The World Games and the Magic City Classic Parade in Birmingham.

But she still had dreams of expanding the reach of her coffee business.

“We wanted a trailer to be mobile and bring this brewing experience to people, but sometimes, God puts you where you need to be and not where you want to be,” Elmore said.

She connected with the owner of Foundlings Emporium in downtown Vincent and started holding a pop-up coffee shop there on Saturdays.

In December 2022, Elmore opened Alicia’s Coffee in a storefront across the street from the emporium, next to the railroad crossing.

Elmore said Vincent reminds her of Wylam, a small town near Birmingham where she grew up.

“That’s why I fell in love with it so much,” Elmore said. “The citizens of Vincent, they’re amazing. We wouldn’t be going without them and them believing in us.”

Alicia’s Coffee offers the gamut of coffee beverages, including multiple flavors of regular and iced coffee, along with frappe, cappuccino, latte, espresso and café au lait options.

According to Elmore, the bourbon caramel-flavored iced coffee is a fan favorite (and, just to clarify, it does not contain alcohol).

“It’s the best around,” Elmore said. “I promise when you try it, you’ll be hooked. You can also get it hot.”

Customers can also purchase a variety of danishes, muffins, doughnuts and other baked goods.

Alicia’s Coffee has indoor seating for those who want to sit awhile. The shop furnishings are all for sale as a part of the partnership with Foundlings Emporium in order to provide additional revenue for both businesses.

Customers can also request curbside service.

“We just try to make it as convenient as possible for people on the go,” Elmore said.

In the future, she said she wants to host events at her shop, such as city gatherings, open mic nights and music events.

Alicia’s Coffee also provides event catering services.

Alicia’s Coffee is located at 42735 Highway 25 in Vincent.

For more information, visit Aliciascoffee.com or follow Alicia’s Coffee on Facebook and Instagram.

For Elmore, coffee is more than just a product; it is a way of connecting with others.

“It takes sacrifice, dedication and faith,” Elmore said. “We put God first in everything we do, and we ask him to remove it if it’s not for us. I’m about serving the community; whatever I can do, that’s what I’m about. We’re about the connection.”