Living the dream

Deb Tastet

PHOTO BY Vic Cantu

Deb Tastet is living her dream, but life wasn’t always easy for this 52-year-old single mother. She’s recovered from drug addiction, escaped a bad marriage and found safety and solace in the community of Magalia. A year ago, after working minimum-wage jobs, she was able to open her own coffee shop, Da Coffee Pot, where she passes on help to the dispossessed, encourages political discussion, and offers local coffee, homemade food and live music. Sitting around the shop, it’s evident that the employees and patrons are more like a loving, close–knit family than anything else. Find Da Coffee Pot at 14478 Skyway, on Facebook, or by calling 762–7117.

What makes your coffee shop different from others?

First, we often give three to four meals a day to any needy customers, since we’re all God’s children. We have a free lend/borrow library, plus we promote alternative political viewpoints, such as the State of Jefferson movement. Vietnam veterans meet here every Saturday, and every other Saturday is story time with Bekah [Holden-Hector] dressing up as a mermaid in a pink wig. We also help neighbors get through family emergencies. We call it “Magalia magic.” If someone dies, we’ll even put flowers on their grave.

You had quite a struggle to get to this point. How did you turn your life around?

I quit meth cold turkey 18 years ago because I needed to save my daughter, Remy, who’s now 18. Then, four years ago I was down and out with an imploded marriage, so I moved from Nevada to Magalia. I worked for a local cigarette store for $9 an hour, but wanted to start a business to make a real difference. Magalia is not all a bunch of tweakers and thieves. I thought I would just be filling coffee cups, but my boyfriend got ideas out of my brain and made them happen.

Tell me about your menu.

We have many coffee varieties purchased locally, mostly from Has Beans in Chico. Our food and pastries, such as stuffed doughnut holes, muffins, sandwiches and smoothies are made from scratch by our “ninja baker,” Jan Murell. Many of them are vegan and gluten–free. They change depending on Jan’s fancy, or the delicious ideas I give her from Facebook.

You seem to feel for those in need.

Yes, I made a deal with God: Magalia kept me safe, so the least I could do was keep things warm and safe for others. We donate things like toys and socks locally. Socks are a big need here in Magalia. We also give fruits and vegetables to the needy, and I’m starting a community garden on the half-acre I own.

I hear live music in the other room.

Yes, at any given time one or more people will sing or play instruments. We also have an incredible house band, Street Legal, that rocks out on Saturday nights. A couple of them have played in major rock bands like Journey and Jefferson Starship.

How do you feel about your venture overall?

I love it. This shop is all I have since all my family has passed away. I wanted to offer an alternative to barrooms and casinos. On top of all I’ve helped create, we’re opening up Magalia’s first drive–through this week. I made this shop so I didn’t have to fight anyone to get money for my child, and now she knows what bootstraps are.