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Progressive perk

Built on local values and entrepreneurial savvy, Spiked. A Coffee Concept is a boozy coffeehouse that opens doors to community action.

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When Brittani Hunter started a campus coffee cart at Oklahoma State University in 2015, she didn't know it would plant a seed that would blossom into one of Oklahoma City's most community-focused establishments a half decade later. At the time, it was simply a project for a business course toward her marketing degree. Today, however, she owns and operates Spiked. A Coffee Concept, a chic Northeast OKC coffee shop located in the same 23rd Street shopping structure that houses Eastside Pizza House and Kindred Spirits.


Alongside the reliable spread of lattes and cappuccinos with various creamer, sweetener, and syrup options, Spiked. also serves alcohol, hence the name. Any coffee can be spiked, but the shop also has a handful of house specialties. The Awe Amore combines brandy and amaretto with espresso, syrup, and whipped cream. The Cola Coffee is exactly as it sounds, with cola added to a mix of Kahlúa and vodka. The menu also includes adult drinks minus the java for those who dislike coffee or want a change of pace. It lists standards like the Eastside Mule next to more signature recipes like the Bougie, which blends grapefruit, soda, and tequila with lime juice and lavender. At a glance, Spiked.'s menu is essentially a Venn diagram of coffee and cocktails.


Spiked. doesn't skimp on the booze, either, which helps make even something as straightforward as the London Joe (basic coffee with Irish liquor) a genuine treat. With inflation affecting costs in 2022, it could be tempting to water down these coffee cocktails into a ghost of themselves, but Spiked. doesn't. This is not only a dedication to the brand's concept but also a representation of how much Hunter continues to value her customers. She may even do it to a fault.


A Spiked. coffee flight. - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • A Spiked. coffee flight.

"I'd say our biggest challenge is me," Hunter said. "I want to help people, and sometimes I do that at the expense of Spiked."


Whether holding free information events in tandem with grassroots organizations, featuring free local music and spoken word showcases, hosting book signings, or keeping flyers to other events in the community available at the bar, the coffeehouse is always eager to be a catalyst in community development.


"Most local coffee shop owners are alike. We all care about the community and find ways to help or be the connectors," Hunter said.


While this is true, Spiked. is unlike the average coffee shop in many other ways. There are only two black-owned brick-and-mortar coffee houses currently operating in OKC, and practically the same number is located in the city's Eastside. Spiked. is one, and the slightly older Culture Coffee, which Hunter has credited as a mentor to her business, is the other. In a neighborhood that is seeing a surge in economic and real estate development, this is significant. Organizations like NEOKC Renaissance are striving to keep this boom in the hands of the neighborhood and away from opportunistic outside interests.


"In America, it is almost unheard of for black voices to be leading the charge on so many important projects that impact the entire city," Hunter said. "It’s also just as important to see the community showing up and supporting these visions. It’s what makes Oklahoma City great."


This level of black excellence runs in Hunter's family, whose roots run back to Tulsa's Black Wall Street. Brittani Hunter's late grandfather, L.J. Farley, owned prominent dry-cleaning business Farley Cleaners and Laundry there for over half a century and received acclaim for his work. She holds dear his advice to “Take a stand, decide what you want to do, and just get after it.” These words are commemorated on a plaque inside of Spiked., and the aforementioned London Joe spiked coffee is dedicated to him as well. Contrary to the first impression that the drink might be a mere play on the beverage terms "London fog" and "cup of joe," London Joe is actually the full name of L.J. Farley.


Brittani Hunter's "getting after it" extends well beyond her coffee shop, too. In May, she officially became the executive director of OKC's Adventure District, where the Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy Heritage and Western Museum, and Science Museum Oklahoma all reside. She also has Homeless Alliance Board of Directors and National Basketball Players Association Certified Agent on her ever-growing resume.


For an entrepreneur under 30, she is discontent to wait until her golden years to give back. She wants to build the community up with her, and the resources that she provides through Spiked. do not stop at local events and representation. Its bathrooms are stocked with discreet gift bags of feminine hygiene products which are offered at no cost or obligation. Spiked. also runs a coat drive.


"We keep hygiene products in our bathrooms so that no one ever has to ask. Just come get what you need because you are worthy," Hunter said. "I always knew we’d keep those in our bathrooms. I didn’t expect to do the coat drive, but because there was a need, I responded. We will continue to keep our coat rack stocked with coats, socks, gloves, and hats as long as our doors are open."


BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green

As for who constitutes the community that her coffee shop serves, Hunter has a simple answer.


"Any and everyone that steps foot in Spiked."


In addition to drawing customers from the immediate surrounding area, the space has become a meeting place destination for many progressively-minded professionals who travel extra miles to support the business. Organizational figures have been interviewed here. Politicians have strategized here. Ballot measure signature drives have been held here. Hunter even interviews local political candidates on Instagram Live in Spiked.'s ongoing Coffee and Candidates series.


Coffee houses have a long and proud tradition of doubling as not only community gathering spaces but also catalysts for major historical movements. From their lower-class Turkish beginnings to the European Enlightenment to the American Revolution, they have favored progress. Now, with corporate institutions like Starbucks not only commodifying the tradition but allegedly actively busting workers' unions, local coffee shops are as important as ever.


While Hunter naturally has to consider profit margins when running her coffee house, and she would love to see her company go worldwide someday, she doesn't operate with market domination in mind. Community comes first. When asked how she balances the business side of Spiked. with local aid, her response was concise.


"We don’t," Hunter said. "If you need us, we're here for you."


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