It’s not every day that you can brew a cup of coffee that was roasted in Washington and also helps a military family or a fallen soldier. But families around Thurston County and the South Sound are enjoying the special brews of De Espresso Liber, the business brainchild of Alex, who wishes to go by his first name for security purposes.
The company’s name is derived from the US Army Special Forces motto – “De Opresso Liber,” meaning “To Free the Oppressed.” De Espresso Liber started out as a single operation, more like a hobby, with Alex using a torch, steel bowl and wooden spoon in the garage of his Lacey home. The company has now grown to a two-man operation, with Armando Pimentel on board.
“I was commissioned through a mutual friend to do the artwork for the company logo and I loved what Alex was doing and the coffee so much that he asked me to help him out with graphics,” Armando said. “After a few short months of working together, we realized we had the same vision and values. I was then brought on full time to balance it out and tell the infantryman side of the house – one SF Solider and one 11Bravo.”
Alex served seven years in the US Army Special Forces, working with an elite corps of soldiers and counterparts overseas. It was during that time overseas that his love for coffee grew. “We agreed that the standard military coffee and a lot of regular store bought coffee just didn’t cut it,” Armando said.
“When you are constantly drinking bad coffee you just get used to bad coffee and think that is the pinnacle of the coffee experience; there’s nothing to enjoy, you simply drink it to stay awake.” It was during his time overseas in southeast Asia, drinking coffee freshly roasted and direct from the source, that Alex realized he was tasting a better cup he had ever had before. This is when he developed the love for roasting.
Armando will tell you that starting any new business is a little scary, “but we were trained to adapt and overcome.” Their inspiration comes from the brotherhood shared and remembering the Fallen. “It is up to us to keep their memories alive and remember these men who inspire us to be better than we were yesterday.”
“When you are a part of a close group stuck together in the harshest conditions you gain an appreciation for those by your side. It inspires us to develop coffee and products that are up to the task,” Armando said.
Beyond that, Alex dedicates special brews to help military families in need. In April, the Reyes family learned that their five-year-old daughter, Avery, was battling a very serious brain tumor. Alex and Isaac Reyes served together for four years, until 2012 when Alex left the Army and started his coffee roasting business.
“Isaac got a call from his old teammate, Alex, stating that he was wanting to help,” Rachel Reyes said. Unsure of Avery’s future and expenses that would be involved, Alex stepped up to help the family financially. “Alex told me that he had a large amount of coffee donated to him for any special cause and said he wanted a batch to be dedicated to help our family.”
“It’s amazing how fast the bills added up from hotels, parking our two cars at $8/day each per day, gas, food, and we were blindsided by the ongoing expenses of medications, doctor visits, and testing in spite of having insurance,” Rachel noted. Alex’s called his special brew “Avery Tough” for the little girl who has a warrior’s fearless heart. He donated the proceeds of the funds to help the Reyes family with emergency medication costs and other expenses they were paying out of pocket.
Alex also has a series of Gold Star Memorial blends, honoring the men who lost their lives while in service to their country. The Memorial roasts are a way for families to tell a little bit of their loved one’s story. There are many charitable organizations that these families either give to or have started in honor of their fallen loved ones. The blends are custom made in house and need the approval of the families before they are released.
“Alex is not only an ex-teammate that served with Isaac during tough times, but also a good friend that used his personal business to help out our family when we needed it the most. De Espresso Liber is one of the multiple blessings we have seen from our military friends and organizations,” Rachel added.
“It’s been such a blessing to us to know that we have the funds now to help us try things to assist Avery in her healing process that would otherwise be hard on us financially, if not even impossible,” said Rachel, referring also to some of the natural healing approaches not covered by insurance.
“Not only does this company sell amazing coffee, but it is made by a Special Forces Veteran who truly has a heart of gold,” added Rachel. “He works so hard to help other people and causes. This company truly has been an answer to our prayers!”
“Our hopes for the business are to deliver a quality product hands down. We implement the Special Forces Motto “Quality over Quantity.” We also hope to keep giving back and as we continue to grow, do more for our brothers and their families. As we grow we hope to employ more veterans,” added Armando.
For a unique, local and veteran owned business that gives back to military families in need, as well as those families who have lost loved ones overseas, check out De Espresso Liber or visit their Facebook page.