A full Latin American experience is what the owners of Mi Cafecito wanted customers to have. As customers walk into Mi Cafecito on Main St., they are greeted to the aroma of fresh coffee beans and the sweet smell of Mexican pan dulce.
First-generation American business owners Paola Vega, 26, and Juan Vega, 32, opened up Mi Cafecito together on Jan. 19, 2016.
The coffeehouse has since become a successful small business in downtown Pomona. According to Juan Vega, it all began by chance. Paola’s father presented her the idea or owning a business. Her father’s suggestion was due to Paola always wanting to be a business owner. Her father saw potential for a business in the building where Mi Cafecito is now located since he owned offices in the same building.
“He knew that there was going to be a group of people in there, sometimes there’s 30 people, 60 people over the weekend, and there’s nothing else but Starbucks, and you know when you go to a lecture or something like that, you want coffee,” Juan said.
The couple wanted to start a coffeehouse that represented Latinos following the 2016 elections, when the Latino community was very divided, according to Juan. “I feel like my interpretation of the Latin culture, or at least what I have lived, is a culture that is very family-oriented, very inviting and everyone is family and that’s what we wanted to do,” he said. A culture that is loud, bright and that’s festive, Juan added.
“We named it Mi Cafecito, one, because Latinos always say, ‘Vamos por mi cafecito’ but also because I wanted people to make it theirs. I want this to be their spot and I wanted this to be the community’s,” Juan said.
Although Vega now co-owns a coffeehouse, he was not always into coffee. He liked the smell of coffee, but he was not a coffee drinker. On the other hand, Juan’s grandma was a coffee drinker who would try to get him to drink coffee.
“I’ve always been the type of person to want to drink things in their natural state, so if I was going to drink coffee, I like to drink it black. The coffee that was around me that was black wasn’t good,” Juan said.
Although he’s not a coffee fanatic, that didn’t stop him from starting his own coffeehouse. Instead, Juan took a three-day seminar in Tijuana, Mexico on coffee brewing.
“It was cool. We went to those trainings, it took three days to take them. We learned a lot. It was actually my first time behind an espresso machine. I was able to steam milk and stuff like that and that was just the beginning,” Juan said.
Maricela Corral, 28, is a regular customer at Mi Cafecito who enjoys spending time at the shop.
According to Corral, the coffeehouse has great customer service and a very attentive staff.
“Mi Cafecito is a unique place because when I go, it makes me feel as if I were having coffee at a cute little shop in Mexico City,” Corral said.
Mi Cafecito is not only popular in the community for their Latino-inspired coffeehouse theme, but also for their Latino America inspired drinks.
“I didn’t want to to make it all Mexican. I wanted to embrace the Latino culture. That’s why on our wall, we have every single Latin American country, and we try to serve the best from Latin America,” Juan said.
The coffeehouse gets inspiration of their drinks from various Latin America countries, and according to Juan, they add their own twist to drinks like the Cuban Cortadito, Café de Olla and the Café con Leche. They are also currently working on trying to bring a Colombian lemonade to the shop.
“We wanted you to know wherever you came from, whether you’re Latino or not, that you felt at home and that you felt comfortable. Our model was unity through coffee, so it was about sticking together and empowering each other,” Juan said.
The most popular drinks vary depending on the weather, but they use the same flavors for all their drinks – whether they’re hot, cold or blended. The iced mocha Mexicano and the iced tres leches are among customers favorite, Juan said.
Coffeehouse enthusiast Reilina Minero, 28, liked Mi Cafecito so much she even bought a t-shirt from the coffeehouse with the saying “Pero primero, Mi Cafecito.”
“This place is unique for its ambiance and drink creations, customer service has been good the few times I’ve been there. I really like the horchata coffee,” Minero said.
Not only does Vega have more plans to expand his business in the future, he also has personal plans to start a nonprofit organization for young aspiring entrepreneurs.
“I really would love to build a nonprofit that does something that’s helping out children, that’s helping out teens, adolescents with building their future and showing that they can step into a leadership position, and they can build something. So that’s the purpose for our shop,” Juan said.
Juan has some advice for aspiring culinary and business students who want to be business owners. “Just be passionate about it because if you have passion for it, the hours aren’t going to matter. It didn’t matter when I was working 16-17 hour days, because I was tired but I was happy that I was building something for myself,” he said.
“I would definitely say have passion in what you’re going to do and have a real purpose of why you want to do it. Speaking on that purpose makes it more than just a shop, it makes it more of what your going to have, serve a purpose,” Juan added.