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Distinctly Deco

DecoDrinks combines local sources with global inspiration

Deco Drinks, located at 5097A E. 51st St., serves high-quality coffee, loose leaf tea, matcha, and craft boba tea.

Andrew Saliga

From the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church to the Philcade, Tulsans are familiar with the influence of Art Deco on the architecture downtown. The design movement’s popularity intersected with an oil-industry boom in the early 1900s, resulting Tulsa’s high concentration of Art Deco-inspired architecture. What’s perhaps lesser known is that the Art Deco movement borrowed inspiration from a variety of aesthetics and cultures with the intent of creating a modern unified theme.

One of Tulsa’s newest establishments, DecoDrinks, honors that tradition by serving a wide range of drinks, sourced both locally and internationally.

DecoDrinks owner Alex Coffey’s background is business, but he developed an appreciation for tea culture while earning his MBA in China. The slow and meditative tea brewing process was a stark contrast to Americans’ ritualistic coffee, which tends to be consumed with haste and often only as caffeine delivery mechanism.

Sensing the need for a career shift, Coffey decided to leave the oil and gas industry and applied to the Kitchen 66 Launch Program in 2016. DecoDrinks’ concept was simple: serve high-quality coffee, loose leaf tea, matcha, and craft boba tea. “Globally, there are good drinks from different cultures that work well in the cafe and coffeehouse setting,” Coffey said. After completing the Kitchen 66 entrepreneur program, Coffey opened his doors in January. 

Nestled into a cozy retail space at 51st St. and Yale Ave., the interior of DecoDrinks is part coffee and tea bar, part merch shop. It’s reminiscent of a small cafe you might find in a larger city, with a mixture of barside and cafe-style seating. The storefront’s large glass windows allow for natural light with a clear view of LaFortune Park across the street.

Tulsa has numerous places to get an excellent cocktail or coffee, but few that emphasize tea. “I always held onto this idea of trying to do something that connected the tea culture experience I had in China with an American experience,” Coffey said. All of the coffees and teas featured on the menu are also available for purchase, along with the gear to brew and serve them.

Coffey wants people to experience the ritual of tea—the meditative beauty of taking a moment to be present and simply enjoy the visual and aromatic elegance as freshly-steeped tea leaves dance around the infusion vessel.

“I’ve recently noticed an emphasis on mindfulness and incorporating that into tea. People are looking for ways to relax, take a second, and slow down. Tea is really good at that,” Coffey said.

While all tea can foster that experience, the CBD teas on the menu do this with a little more oomph. Coffey only serves these teas by the glass, but they are available in bulk at the business next door, FeelGood CBD Wellness Emporium.

DecoDrinks’ craft boba teas are one of their more unique offerings. Rather than use a powdered mix, their boba teas start with small batch preparations of loose leaf teas or matcha. The result is a boba tea that is less sweet, more complex in flavor, and true to its Vietnamese origins.

For those wanting an entirely different cultural sipping experience, DecoDrinks also serves horchata.

Local options abound as well. When sitting barside, one can’t help but notice the three tap handles for draft beverages. Local Cült Kombucha is one of the staples on tap. The other tap handles feature rotating options like a nitro sencha green tea.

For DecoDrinks, serving high-quality drinks is key, but that doesn’t mean they won’t experiment with flavor combinations. “I’m not trying to be so pretentious about coffee that we have to be purists,” Coffey said. “We really push to mix it up.” A current customer favorite, the camo latte, is a blend of matcha, espresso, and vanilla.

The cafe-style shop would be remiss if it didn’t provide some food options. To this end, DecoDrinks serves baked goods from local Great Harvest Bread Co. and uses Farrell Family Bread for their two types of avocado toast—avocado and feta, or avocado and lox.

DecoDrinks uses Onyx coffee out of Arkansas as their house option, and also carries beans from local spots such as Cirque Coffee Roasters. Because of Tulsa’s thriving coffee roasting scene, they don’t currently have any plans to roast, but at the same time prefer not to be constrained by definitive words like “never.”  

DecoDrinks is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

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