If you grew up in a Latino or Latin-American household, odds are you started drinking coffee at a really young age. I still remember drinking a café de olla, accompanied by a panesito with my abuelita every day before grade school. That said, it’s no wonder we’re addicted to its alluring aroma and pleasant tanginess by the time we reach our teen years.
As Latino coffeehouses continue to flourish in Los Angeles, we rounded up our favorite Latino-owned shops in the City of Angels and spoke to each owner to find out what makes their shop uniquely Latino or uniquely LA.
“We try to showcase our heritage through some of the drinks and also just by displaying artwork or photography that brings attention to indigenous groups, mostly in Guatemala.
‘Patria’ is Spanish and there’s a sense of pride in ancestry, family, and roots and [we] try to bring attention to cultural identity.
We are all about celebrating our heritage, but it’s a fine balancing act because we don’t want to exclude anyone, especially the black community here in Compton.
[Patria] is a fusion or the equal harmony of brown and black and other groups, because we do celebrate Motown, Kenrick, and Dr. Dre. The next generation of Latinos is embracing other cultures here [in Los Angeles].”
Geoffrey Martinez, owner, recommends trying the Café de Olla Latte.
“We only feature Latin-American coffee. That was one of our biggest aims.
There’s always been a connection with Latin-America and coffee—Colombia has always been a big supplier—but I feel like Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and the mainstream coffee shops have never fully featured and focused on Latin-American coffee as they should and so that’s what we do. We put them at the front. Our espresso is from Mexico and our regular drip is either Guatemalan or Colombian, but we carry [from] all over. Everything about our food and our drinks menu, and the feel of it too [is Latin American]. It feels like home.”
Daisy Iniguez, owner, recommends trying the Capuyo Latte.
Cruzita's Deli and Cafe
“[Cruzita’s Deli] represents a first-generation Latina experience. I was born and raised in the community I started Curzita’s, Southeast LA in Huntington Park. LA is so many cultures fused together and I think that’s the experience I had here growing up… I think that’s what Cruzita’s Deli and Cafe represents—staying true to ourselves by offering these traditional drinks, but also fusing other flavors and cultures, and that’s what LA is all about.”
Celina Lopez, co-founder, recommends the Mexican Mocha.
The Boy and The Bear Coffee
“Everything about us is genuine. I’m Colombian, born and raised. All the Colombian culture [like] the music is there. [And] it’s not just Latino music… [they’re] songs that mean a lot to Colombians and South Americans.
There’s a lot of culture behind it, genuine culture… I was born there, so it’s as real as it gets. I believe that’s probably the biggest thing. There’s a lot of coffee roasters, a lot of people that sell Colombian coffee, but the way we do it is in a genuine way. That sense of genuity and real content makes us so unique.”
Andres Piñeros, owner, recommends the Red Ruby Bourbon Pour Over and the Gibraltar.
“Culturally speaking, we embody what I grew up listening to. Punk-rock and hip-hop—that’s what drove us. Our coffee shop is very much like that. We’re loud… not a typical coffee shop in the sense that there’s a huge trend of coffee shops that kind of go towards it being a study hall or some sort of place to study—our bend on it is, again, a reflection of me and my culture, which is loud.
We’re always bumping’ some hip-hop or something loud and crazy because that’s what pushes us. I think that’s a reflection of me culturally but also, of our culture, being in Long Beach.”
Bobby Hernandez, owner, recommends the Honey Vanilla Latte and Sea Salt Affogato.
El Cielito Café
“[Cielito Cafe has] a direct connection with Latin America itself [by] way of the coffee. From what I know, we’re the only coffee shop that has established a direct farm to cut the connection with these farmers in Latin American through representatives of the Fincas. We’re making sure that the profit goes directly to these farms and these farmers. We’re actually helping a school get built in the farm in Nicaragua, so that makes us uniquely Latino. We’re helping our people.”
Daniel Olivares, owner, recommends Cielito’s Champulatte.
“[We’re] uniquely Long Beach. Long Beach in itself is unique because it’s both multicultural within our town but also, it’s neighborly. It’s really got that small-town feel but we’re nestled between Orange County and the big city.
With the culture comes our style, it’s got a Long Beach style to it. I think it’s real but approachable at the same time, so that’s our shop. What’s unique, I’d like to say that we like to represent both our neighborhoods and communities really well in Long Beach. If you look at each shop, each shop doesn’t even look like the same company, per se. It still has the same feel and we’re guest-focused. At our shops, the guest is the hero but at the same time, we’re proud to be from Long Beach and you see that in all of our branding.”
John Aguirre, founder, recommends you try the Elote Avocado Toast and Lavender Latte.