When I was growing up in the Dominican Republic, coffee wasn’t just a drink you’d chug to help you wake up but a ritual. Sure, we drank coffee in the early morning hours, but coffee time shone its brightest after lunch. Made on the stovetop in a beat-up percolator, it brewed fast and strong. Our family would then sip coffee for approximately 45 minutes, conversing and relaxing in one another’s company. Back then, I took my coffee black with three tablespoons of sugar. Thinking about those processed sugars now makes my skin tingle.
Granted, I still treat myself to dessert, and I’m not opposed to the sporadic Oreo, but in general, my consumption of processed sugars has decreased over the years. After reading Jolene Hart’s “Eat Pretty” and realizing that sugar is a cause of inflammation in our bodies, I’m far more sugar-conscious.
As I stepped into the new Not Your Sugar Mamas Organic Cafe in Vineyard Haven, co-founder Ky Keenan welcomed me with a smile and a question: “Would you like a coffee before we sit down to chat?” That simple question would change my outlook on coffee.
My answer to coffee is always yes, so Ky walked behind the counter and expertly pulled a shot of espresso, while reaching below to grab a blend of cashews and dates. She dropped them into a high-powered blender along with the freshly brewed coffee and a splash of water. A couple of pulses later, she poured a luscious drink into an eco-friendly cup, handing it over to me with an expectant smile. As I took my first sip, I was shocked. “Wait, what’s in this again?” I asked. “Dates, cashews, coffee, and water? You’re kidding me, right?”
It was basically the best latte ($5) I’ve ever had, with no dairy or processed sugars. Cashews blend into a creamy dairy substitute, while the dates add that sweetness we all crave madly. It’s rich and creamy, strong in coffee flavor, with a silky mouth feel — everything I want in a latte, only healthier.
That’s exactly what the new organic cafe at Not Your Sugar Mamas strives to do: satisfy those inevitable sugar cravings with treats made from organic ingredients, no refined sugars, gluten, or dairy products. Their ingredients consist of nutrient-dense raw nuts, seeds, and sweeteners, in addition to using Chilmark Coffee and Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt.
The cafe is an ideal spot to grab a drink to wake up to in the morning, or for a
midafternoon treat. The Espresso Shake ($6.95) includes banana, espresso, cashews, dates, and cacao, making it the perfect way to beat the summer heat. If you’re looking for noncaffeinated drinks, their menu boasts quite a few options, like their Salted Caramel ($8) made with cashews, vanilla, dates, coconut oil, and Himalayan salt. The menu also includes superfood smoothies with delicious add-ins. The case of chocolates ($2 each) nods to iconic candy bars such as KitKat, Snickers, and Twix. All are made with no refined sugars, yet are just as sweet and delicious as their processed counterparts.
Sure, dates and other whole foods have natural sugars, but they are balanced by the benefits of antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients.
By the way, the girls at Not Your Sugar Mamas are working on a cookbook. It’s planned for release in 2018, and will be packed to the brim with their recipes for drinks, raw treats, and baked goods. Their focus on nutrient-dense ingredients that make us feel good is what keeps them going. Between balancing families, friends, a growing business, and cookbook writing, chocolate is their fuel.
Visit the Organic Cafe located in the Tisbury Marketplace, open Monday through Saturday 8 am to 4 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Visit their site for updates: notyoursugarmamas.com. They will host an interactive chocolate workshop August 10 from 4 to 6 pm ($65). Reserve your spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.