When Damian Castillo and Claudia Monroy first came to Seattle nearly a decade ago, they had something of an epiphany. “It was raining, it was cold. We loved it,” says Monroy. “There was something captivating about the city.”
It took them a few years, but the couple moved out here from New York in 2018, and shortly afterward had a second epiphany: There was a hole in the middle of the city’s doughnut scene. Castillo, who went to culinary school and whose Venezuelan American family owns a bakery in Miami, saw that many of Seattle’s best doughnuts, like those sold at the Flour Box and General Porpoise, were filled doughnuts. The couple began thinking about a doughnut shop that would offer Seattleites high-quality glazed doughnuts with Latin American flavors.
They weren’t able to secure a lease before the pandemic, and like so many people had to put their dreams on hold for a couple of years. But post-pandemic, they were able to find a location on Stone Way in Fremont, just up the road from Sea Wolf. And after half a year of construction, the couple opened Doce Donut Co. in early May, setting off a wave of excited in their baked-goods-obsessed adopted city. During their first few days, business was so brisk that they are now trying to figure out how to ramp up production — customers lined up on the sidewalk outside and Doce sold out each day in a matter of hours.
Castillo calls his doughnuts “elevated,” and wants customers to view them more like a dessert than a cheap snack. “We’re not gonna be Dunkin’ Donuts,” he says. The brioche dough is fermented for 24 hours, and as a result these cake-y, raised doughnuts are massive. The Tres Leches — which is soaked in three milk custard, dipped on the bottom in chocolate, and topped with a pillow of blowtorched meringue — is probably too big and too sweet for one person in one sitting (it’s also $6.50).
It’s a tricky balancing act Doce is going for, with light, airy brioche dough carrying intense flavors, like the Guava Con Queso, which is filled with guava and cream cheese swirl and topped with cookies. It’s exciting to see that level of ambition in doughnut form, and a welcome addition to Seattle’s bakery scene, in which Asian and Scandinavian baking traditions are more common than Latin American ones.
But wait, what’s the deal with the name? “When we moved here, everyone had the 12 flag everywhere,” Monroy says. “I didn’t understand that concept. I’m like, Why does everybody have the 12, 12, 12?” It’s safe to say the couple gets the idea behind the 12th Man flag now — they’re on their way to creating a few fans of their own.