Devout Coffee has been on my list for a while. A favourite of my friend Karen, who lives (by US standards) nearby, I first visited in January 2020. I would have written it up then, but a combination of factors (including it being a very busy Sunday morning) prevented me. 2½ years were to pass before my return to the Bay Area, where a day-trip to Niles, the northernmost district of the city of Fremont, was a priority.
Devout Coffee celebrates its 10th anniversary at the end of August, marking when it started roasting, although the coffee shop in Niles didn’t open until 2014. For many years, the roaster was in a small area in the back of the shop, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it moved next door, the original 5 kg Probat recently joined by a refurbished 30 kg Trabattoni. Since March 2021, there’s been a second Devout, a coffee trailer in Lake Chabot Public Market in Castro Valley.
There are multiple choices pour-over, with a single-origin espresso, plus batch and cold brew, along with retail bags of beans and a selection of cakes/pastries. You can sit inside, but the best experience is outside in the large patio area.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Devout Coffee is on Niles Boulevard, running along the northern edge of town, parallel to the train tracks and State Route 238 which bypasses Niles, taking most of the traffic with it. On the south side of the boulevard, Devout provides good views of the hills on the far side of the freeway. The front is almost all glass, the door in the centre, part of the recessed left-hand side. Pre-pandemic, there were a couple of small tables outside, although these days, a long bench runs in front of the neighbouring roastery building to the right. However, a much better option is between the two, a wooden fence spanning the gap, with a large, open gate at the right-hand end
This leads into Devout’s awesome patio space, which is about half the depth of the coffee shop, occupying the full width between the two buildings which provide shade at various times of the day. From the street, there’s a wooden bar on the right, running down the fence next to the roastery and extending a short way across the fence at the back, seating provided by five tall stools. Meanwhile, on the left, an L-shaped bench, made of breeze blocks topped with planks, runs along the coffee shop wall before projecting towards the middle, wrapping itself around a low coffee table. Finally, in the middle of the patio, a long, thin communal table runs front-to-back, seating again provided by tall stools. In all, you could get 12 people at the table, provided everyone bunches up.
From the patio, there’s a door to the coffee shop, at the back on the left, which leads you towards the back of the counter. However, it makes more sense to enter via the front door, order, then exit through the door (now on your right) to take a seat in the patio.
When I visited in January 2020, in those strange, pre-pandemic times, there was plenty of seating inside, although this has been considerably thinned out, probably for the duration of the on-going pandemic. For now, all that remains is one of the two window-bars at the front (the one on the right) and the U-shaped seating area at the back, beyond the counter/door to the patio.
The counter is to your left, a three-part affair consisting of till/cake display (set back from the windows at the front), espresso (parallel to the walls) and pour-over, which links the two at 45°. These days, a table extends from the front part of the pour-over section, displaying Devout’s considerable range of coffee, while also preventing you from casually wandering any further. However, once you’ve ordered, you do need to make your way around the table to the gap on the counter-top between pour-over station and Slayer espresso machine, to collect your coffee.
Sadly, I have no notes from my 2020 visit, but on my return last week, I was spoilt for choice, with eight single-origin pour-over options through the V60, the daily batch brew and whatever’s on espresso (this is one of the single-origins, Devout loading a bucket with beans and when they’re gone, typically every few days, another takes its place). I went this, the Fatubesi, a washed coffee from East Timor. This was excellent, really well-balanced, smooth and rich. There was a touch of bitterness on the second sip, becoming slightly more acidic on third. I paired my espresso with the last morning bun (or “evening bun” as the barista and I agreed, since it was five o’clock). This too was lovely: chewy and sweet, but neither sticky nor sickly.
Before leaving, I gave the baristas a gift from Adams + Russell, the Segundo Ortíz Finca Alto Roblalito. They were so excited that they immediately brewed up a V60, insisting that I share a glass with them. The coffee was excellent, by the way, both baristas very impressed with the notes of maple syrup and baked apple.
|37323 NILES BOULEVARD • FREMONT • CA 94536 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Devout Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Window Bar, Benches; Tables, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Cakes|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 19:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||5th January 2020, 24th July 2022|
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