Mon | Sep 27, 2021

Hibiscus ‘Brewin’ on a whim in Brooklyn, NY

Published:Thursday | July 15, 2021 | 5:51 AMDebra Edwards/Assistant Online and Lifestyle Editor
Allison Dunn in front of her colourful Hibiscus Brew café in Brooklyn, New York.
Allison Dunn in front of her colourful Hibiscus Brew café in Brooklyn, New York.
A rainbow of smoothies available at Brooklyn cafe Hibiscus Brew.
A rainbow of smoothies available at Brooklyn cafe Hibiscus Brew.
The hibiscus smoothie at Hibiscus Brew.The hibiscus smoothie at Hibiscus Brew.
The hibiscus smoothie at Hibiscus Brew.The hibiscus smoothie at Hibiscus Brew.
Iced coffees are a hit at Hibiscus Brew.
Iced coffees are a hit at Hibiscus Brew.
Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew.Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew.
Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew.Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew.
Iced matcha with oat milk from Hibiscus Brew.Iced matcha with oat milk from Hibiscus Brew.
Iced matcha with oat milk from Hibiscus Brew.Iced matcha with oat milk from Hibiscus Brew.
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Sometimes not having a set plan can work to your benefit. Such has been the case for Hibiscus Brew owner Allison Dunn, a May Pen, Clarendon native living in Brooklyn, New York, whose adorable, tropical café has become a coffee and smoothie lovers paradise in the midst of a ‘concrete jungle’.

While Dunn notes that she had thoughts of potentially opening a café someday, she never imagined it would happen during a pandemic. “It’s so funny, because this was not something that I planned to open at the time. I was just passing by and saw the empty shop space and went for it. I saw it, went in, and just did it on a whim.”

Hibiscus Brew opened in the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020, and while things started off slow, by spring of 2021, things had sprung, with both online and foot traffic having increased tremendously.

Located steps away from the famed Prospect Park in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, the social media-ready café is enveloped in a pastel amalgamation of pink, yellow, blue and green, creating an aesthetic vibe that is also within walking distance of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

“It’s been really fun seeing the business grow,” says Dunn’s executive assistant, Andrew Guevara. “People have been coming from all over to take pictures of the colourful storefront, and it has also has become a community space and hub.”

Dunn adds, “We are community-focused. We wanted to create a spot where people can come in and enjoy the space. Be a home away from home, and give healthier options that nourish the body, because we strongly believe the food you eat affects your mood, and everything here for us is about joy and happiness.”

ALL IN A NAME

Sorrel, as it’s called in the Caribbean, is also known as Hibiscus sabdariffa (‘hibiscus’ for short), so how did Dunn came up with the Hibiscus Brew name? The Clarendon College alum said, “I wanted to make sure I brought a piece of Jamaica to Brooklyn because I am super proud of my culture; and my friend said to me, ‘Why not do hibiscus?’ So to represent a part of my culture, that’s how I incorporated it.”

With many of the café’s offerings comprising sorrel, people are very curious to find out what the fragrant burgundy flower is and what it tastes like. Other top sellers at the locale include their Clean Skin green smoothie, which comprises kale, cucumber, mango, pineapple and banana. While another favourite is the Blue Power that has blue spirulina.

Coffee and tea are also at the top of customer’s must-haves, including matcha and turmeric lattes. Leading iced teas include passion fruit and — you might have guessed it — sorrel.

HUSTLE IN JAMAICAN DNA

Dunn is also the owner of Neat Rules, a home-organising business that helps people turn their clutter into joy. That business slowed down during the pandemic, and Dunn quickly figured out what to do next, and Hibiscus Brew was birthed.

The full-time entrepreneur has also written a children’s book in honour of her son, called Khison is Having Company.

“I’m a Jamaican … who doesn’t have like 10 jobs?” she laughs, “it’s a part of my DNA and culture, you don’t find a Jamaican who doesn’t have a side hustle, and so far I have been turning them into businesses.”

For those who haven’t had the chance to stop at Hibiscus Brew just yet, Dunn says, “Come in, try something different, and try something healthy.”

Coming soon to the locale, a vegan sorrel ice cream.

 

Find Hibiscus Brew at 546 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225 and on Instagram at @hibiscusbrew.

debra.edwards@gleanerjm.com