I am still shaking from my visit to BLKdot Coffee — but in a good way!
his morning we sat down with Stacie and Mai Tran, sisters and co-founders of BLKdot Coffee. We wanted to taste and see what makes their coffee shop a stand-out. With a brand new third location in Irvine and a fourth opening in August, we figured there was something unmissable going on here. We were right: their Vietnamese (VTM) coffee is a game-changer. Mai and her husband developed the current recipe for VTM coffee for use within their own family. Eventually, in 2015, Stacie and Mai founded BLKdot with the intent of bringing Vietnamese coffee to the mainstream. They wanted to introduce their delicious, highly-caffeinated coffee to non-Vietnamese consumers that may never have tried it otherwise.
I sat on a stylish leather couch inside the shop, listening to Stacie and Mai, sipping my iced coffee. As time passed, it became clear to me why “sleep is overrated” is BLKdot’s motto. They were not overselling the highly-caffeinated aspect of their coffee — I felt like I could climb a mountain. In fact, Stacie told us that they recently brought their coffee to a pop-up at a local Irvine gym. Personal trainers found it to be a good source of fuel for their clients’ workouts. VTM coffee is a more natural, wholesome and delicious alternative to something like an energy drink. If you’re an exercise enthusiast, a busy student, a mom-on-the-go or a workaholic of any kind, BLKdot could be a great addition to your routine.
I began to wonder, “what makes the effect of VTM coffee so much more drastic than a regular old cup of Joe?” Stacie explained that Vietnamese coffee typically uses espresso and sweetened condensed milk, and their family doesn’t stray too far from tradition. But one aspect of the process at BLKdot sets them apart from the crowd. To ensure the finished product produces that I could climb a mountain effect, they use an extremely slow drip espresso. The use of a slow drip guarantees a high level of caffeine that will last throughout the day and into the night. Hence, sleep is overrated.
BLKdot is more than just a coffee shop, it’s a food and design destination.
The clear headliner at BLKdot was the Vietnamese coffee. But in my opinion, the atmosphere and food selection also put it on the map. I arrived early to our meeting and decided to step inside to take a look at the interior. The Irvine/Tustin area is home to a few other coffee shops, but none can compete with the attention to detail and sleek, Instagram-worthy design at BLKdot. Stacie explained that she had to fight to get some of the interior elements like the white ceilings and light fixtures approved in the new Marketplace location. Her fervor for the design vision came through: every corner was beautiful and bright. BLKdot Coffee provides the atmosphere you want for study sessions, business discussions and catching up with your closest friends. It’s the type of space that makes it easy to stay for hours.
BLKdot’s breakfast and lunch menu also made me feel like I could set up camp there for the rest of the afternoon.
Often, craft coffee shops deliver on the drinks but lack substance or options in the food category. BLKdot was an obvious exception to this rule. We ordered both their sausage + egg and avocado + tomato toasts. The toasts stood out on the basis of their bread, made by Tarit Tanjasiri of Crema Artisan Bakers, which Stacie told us was carefully selected for its thickness. Sometimes, restaurants sacrifice functionality for picture potential by overloading their bread with toppings. But BLK Dot uses bread that makes eating their topped toasts simple without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.
As an Irvine local myself, I am excited to welcome BLKdot to the neighborhood. They are making a name for Vietnamese coffee while providing a beautiful space and tasty food menu to go along with it.