Navy Veteran Brings “Koffie” and Community to Kingwood

Proprietor Lee Runez and his team at The Dutchie.

The Kingwood area, oft-considered a specialty coffee desert by many residents and visitors, now has The Dutchie Koffie House to visit for their caffeine fix. The Dutchie opened in August 2022 at 24510 Eastex Freeway at the Northpark intersection and is open seven days a week. It draws inspiration from the Amsterdam coffee scene — with no relation to big corporate chain Dutch Bros. Coffee, which is already forcing a name change by way of a cease-and-desist letter. 

Owner and founder Lee Runez, a Navy veteran of Dutch and Filipino descent, shared a love of coffee with his mother who sadly passed away in 2019. It was after their last trip to the Netherlands that Runez decided he would make his dream of opening a coffee shop a reality. He opened The Dutchie in her honor. The décor shares the same modern, minimalist look of the Dutch cafés they visited.

The Dutchie is inspired by Runez's Dutch and Filipino heritage.
The Dutchie is inspired by Runez’s Dutch and Filipino heritage. Pictured are hand-painted clogs from Beth’s Tree Farm. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

In addition to regular espresso and tea options, Runez expresses his multicultural background through The Dutchie’s menu, which rotates seasonal and special drink flavors like coconut ube, charcoal, cold foams and matcha. The kitchen specializes in breakfast and lunch items such as stroop waffles, sandwiches, avocado toast and Dutch pastries. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available as well. 

In 1970’s Amsterdam, the term “coffeeshop” was used by storefronts that made most of their income from selling cannabis. These stores would sell middling amounts of caffeinated beverages, but were essentially early dispensaries carefully navigating Amsterdam’s famously peculiar laws regarding cannabis. The term ‘koffiehuis’ was used to describe the more traditional coffee shop as we know it. At The Dutchie, Runez pays homage by offering legal CBD infusions, which guests can add to any drink on the menu by asking for it to be served “Amsterdam-style”. 

A seating area for taking photographs
A seating area for taking photographs. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

The Dutchie will, however, be seeing some big changes in the coming months. Due to the cease-and-desist letter from Dutch Bros., it will soon pivot into Grindwerks. Changes will include an update in branding and see the addition of in-house roasting. Currently, Runez uses beans from Barbell Roastery, which he chose for their intensity of flavor, and will continue to work with the company for training and consultation.

Under the Grindwerks name, Runez will lean more into his background as a veteran. He would like to host community engagement events in the shop where veterans can gather to have a place to be heard and meet new people. He hopes these events will help support the mental and social health of those who need it. As a student of Jiu Jitsu, Runez has said he plans to offer sponsorships and aid for children and young adults who train in martial arts. He compared his goals to stories of boxing gyms that help foster a sense of purpose and discipline to underserved youth.

The last few years have been challenging for businesses like this, and it’s more important than ever to patronize local establishments. Luckily, reception thus far has been positive for The Dutchie, which follows the likes of Buster’s Brew Coffee & Deli which opened in 2014 in neighboring New Caney. For now, area residents seem more than happy to have an option for “koffie” and conversation in The Liveable Forest that isn’t Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Comments (4)

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  • January 29, 2023 at 3:13 pmSusan Swan

    Look forward to trying them!!

  • January 28, 2023 at 9:56 pmJ Rodriguez

    Where exactly is this around Northpark?? Kingwood side or Oakhurst side?

    • January 29, 2023 at 2:58 pmMario-Sebastian Berry

      On the Kingwood side tucked away behind the Cracker Barrel and Taco Bell.

  • January 28, 2023 at 8:51 pmWowza

    This place is legit and Lee is awesomeness!