Sazón de WA: Doce Donut Co. offers rich brioche doughnuts inspired by Latino flavors

Weekends are the busiest days of the week at Damian Castillo’s bakery, but each customer is still welcomed by the bakers. The smell of the sweet brioche dough wafts down the street, guiding customers toward the Latino-owned shop. 

Doce Donut Co. offers doughnuts with Latino flavor profiles, such as churro, Mexican hot chocolate, and tres leches. They celebrated Cinco de Mayo by designing a mango glaze sprinkled with Tajín. 

Castillo and his wife, Claudia Monroy, opened Doce in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood in May 2023. It offers fresh doughnuts ranging from $4.50 to $5.99 Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until they run out.

Before starting this doughnut business, Castillo earned degrees in culinary arts from the Culinary Academy of Caracas in 2005 and in mass communications from Santa Maria University in 2007. He then moved from Venezuela to Miami in 2008. His parents, who owned various artisanal bread and pastry bakeries in Venezuela, moved to Miami 10 years later and started a new bakery, Crocante, which is still open today. 

Castillo later moved to New York after meeting his wife and then back to Miami before finally moving to Seattle in 2019. His parents followed soon after. They fell in love with Seattle, its “vibe,” and the people. With a solid foundation in their new city, Castillo and his family began thinking about opening their own business. 

”I always wanted to own something,” Castillo said. “I didn’t know what it was, but when we moved to Seattle, we noticed that people love donuts, so I asked my dad to help me come up with a dough recipe.”

After Castillo and his father perfected their dough recipe after a few years in Seattle, they found a shop in 2022 and just needed to create a menu and a name for the bakery. 

Castillo and his family thought about the foods they grew up eating and how they could incorporate them into things like glazes or fillings. For example, the current menu offers a rich churro doughnut with cinnamon sugar and dulce de leche drizzle, as well as a guava con queso doughnut with creamy guava filling, reflecting the popular tastes of Venezuela.

As for the name of the shop, Castillo said he relied on the signs of Seattle for inspiration.

”When we moved to Seattle, we noticed the flag with the number 12 everywhere,” Castillo said.

”We wanted to be something with our Latino roots but also something related to the city, so that’s why we named the place Doce.”

Castillo said that he is “super happy” in Seattle, a feeling that seems to be reflected in his father, Daniel Castillo, who recently prepared doughnuts with a smile in the shop. 

Doce has opened a second new location in South Lake Union and expanded its menu to include rotating flavors, such as pumpkin spice latte and piña colada. Monroy said her family hopes to open more Doce locations and continue building their brand.

Doughnuts wait on display for customers at Doce Donut Co. on April 20, 2024. The current menu offers 12 different flavors, with Latino-inspired themes, such as Mexican hot chocolate and passion fruit creme brulee.
(Photo by McKenna Sweet) 

In addition to a growing menu, the Doce team has also grown. Leila Hoeft started working at Doce about a month ago after years of practical baking experience. 

”Working with food, especially baked goods, is kinda my passion,” Hoeft said. 

While glazing the Mexican hot chocolate doughnuts in the shop recently, Hoeft said that she grew up in the kitchen with her family and that her first job was baking. She explained that she has always loved the culinary field and the artistry aspect of baking, especially while decorating the Tres Leches doughnuts. 

Hoeft said the bakers get to the shop at 3 a.m. every day Doce is open to ensure at least a tray of each flavor is ready by the 8 a.m. opening. The bakers at Doce create everything from scratch and use a 24-hour-rising brioche bread recipe, which results in doughnuts with a density between a croissant and a cake doughnut. 

“My favorite part is seeing the incredible support from our community,” Monroy said in an email. “I love it when customers reach out, giving us feedback on how much they like our doughnuts. It’s amazing to see repeat customers, and somehow you feel like you know them and are part of a larger community.” 

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Cover Photo: Leila Hoeft prepares Mexican hot chocolate doughnuts at Doce Donut Co. on April 20, 2024, in Seattle. Hoeft started working at Doce about a month ago and said she enjoys some of the artistic freedom decorating and baking offers. (Photo by McKenna Sweet)

McKenna Sweet, a third-year student at the University of Washington, is pursuing a double degree in journalism and public interest communication and ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. She combines these two interests to write science articles, making complex topics accessible and understandable. When she is not writing about science, she enjoys introducing readers to people and communities through arts and culture pieces.

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