Devout Coffee, Niles

My espresso, a single-origin from East Timor, roasted by Devout Coffee and served at the coffee shop in Niles, along with a glass of water, presented on a square, metal tray, with a spoon laid diagonally between espresso and glass.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.

  • When I rule the world, parking in front of coffee shops will be banned. This is from my...
  • ... most recent visit, but you can see I had the same problem when visiting back in 2020!
  • It's Devout Coffee, by the way, on Niles Boulevard in Fremont.
  • I finally managed to get a decent shot of the front. These days, there's no outside...
  • ... seating out front, although this bench is in front of the building to the right.
  • In between the two, a fence spans the gap, which we'll come back to, but for now...
  • ... let's admire the hills as seen from the front of Devout.
  • You have to admire a town which writes its name on the hills, just in case it forgets!
  • I made the same observation when I visited in January 2020...
  • ... only the grass was a lot greener compared to late July (my most recent visit).
  • Back to the fence, where a gate on the right reveals Devout's awesome patio!
  • The patio in more detail, as seen from just inside the gate. Starting on the left...
  • ... against the wall of the coffee shop, is this L-shaped bench and its coffee table.
  • There's a communal table that runs front-to-back down the middle of the patio..
  • ... while a wooden bar, seen here from the back, runs down the fence on the right.
  • The view from the back, left-hand corner of the patio.
  • From there, turn around and you'll find a door into the coffee shop.
  • The other (more conventional) way in is through the door at the front...
  • ... seen here from the inside. Back in the day, there were window-bars on either side...
  • ... but now there's just one on the left, reduced to seating two people. To the left...
  • ... the gap between counter and windows leads to a fridge stocked with cold brew.
  • To the right of the counter, where the bulk of seating used to be, a table now stands.
  • As well as displaying Devout's range of retail coffee, it stops you casually wandering...
  • ... further into the shop, although you do have go around to collect your coffee.
  • This table, opposite the counter on the right, acts as a water and takeaway station.
  • Beyond that, in the right-hand wall, is the door to/from the patio...
  • ... beyond which is a U-shaped seating area.
  • Finally, behind that, through an opening in the wall, is a storeroom, which, when I last...
  • ... visited Devout in 2020, was home to the roastery, including the green bean store.
  • This is the 5 kg Probat roaster, now in its new home next door, where it recently moved.
  • Talking of roasting, you'll find the roastery's output in retail bags for sale on the table.
  • I was also drawn to Devout's wonderful collection of ceramic mugs and cups.
  • Down to business. You order at the front of the counter, where you'll find the till...
  • ... which has a lovely picture of the coffee shop on the front.
  • The menus are here too, displayed on the counter-top.
  • There's a standard espresso-based menu...
  • .... along with the current selection single-origin pour-overs (all eight of them)!
  • To the left is the cake/pastry display, sadly depleted late on in the afternoon.
  • From the till, you get a good view of the rest of the operation.
  • First is the pour-over station, with its glass V60s...
  • ... followed by the Slayer espresso machine and its twin-hopper Mahlkönig grinder.
  • Decaf is on the right, the current single-origin choice on the left.
  • There's more filter on the wall behind the counter, with a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder...
  • ... and a Ground Control automatic batch brew (used to make cold brew shots).
  • When I visited in January 2020, I had a cappuccino...
  • ... while my friend Richard had a latte, with much better latte art than my cappuccino.
  • That's some seriously good latte art there...
  • ... which lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.
  • There was also a rather sticky cake, but I can't recall what it was (sticky bun, perhaps?).
  • On my return last week, I had an espresso and the last of the morning buns.
  • My espresso was served in a beautiful handless cup, with a glass of sparkling water...
  • ... all presented on a square tray, complete with spoon.
  • A closer look at my morning bun, served in a filter paper (standard for Devout).
  • Before I left, I presented the staff with a gift from Adams + Russell. Can you spot it?
  • The staff were so excited that they brewed up a V60 of it there and then. Step one...
  • ... rinse the filter paper, then add the ground coffee before letting it bloom.
  • Then there's the usual series of pours...
  • ... until all that's left is to wait until the last of the water filters through.
  • They insisted that I share a glass with them. And very fine it was too.
  • I'll leave you with a better shot of the coffee, the Segundo Ortíz Finca Alto Roblalito.
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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.

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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