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Inspiring Conversations with Ofelia Ponce and Inti Martínez-Alemán of Abogados Café

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ofelia Ponce and Inti Martínez-Alemán. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Ofelia and Inti grew up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. After going to college in Pennsylvania (2010) and New York (2007), they moved back to Honduras to study and practice law. Years later, they both got law degrees from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ofelia and Inti work together at Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm where they serve Hispanics in business, civil, and employment litigation matters. Ofelia has always loved coffee. Inti only drank it when his abuela Rosa brewed it. After tying the knot in 2018, Ofelia introduced Inti to the world of coffee and he hasn’t looked back since. Abogados Café invites you to enjoy a fine combination of coffee and law. Abogados Café (AC) started with an online shop, offering beans from México, Honduras, Perú and Colombia and now we are getting ready to open a brick-and-mortar shop in the Como Park Area of St. Paul, Minnesota. AC focuses on offering Latin American specialty coffee. Our beans are USDA organic and fair trade certified or direct buy. These last two are significant to us because it ensures that farmers and workers are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and earn community development funds to improve their lives. As Latin Americans ourselves it is important to us to support development in the region, abiding by ethical business standards in the coffee beans that we select.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Starting a business comes with its ups and down. In the early stages one of the biggest turning points was financing. One lender even told us a coffee business was not a good idea (without giving us his reasoning). We were able to find a regional bank that believed in our idea and approved finance without a hitch.

The process of opening a brick-and-mortar shop has been convoluted but deeply rewarding. We have worked on everything from rezoning the property to finding good contractors, plumbers and business mentors that understand first-hand the day-to-day operations of a small coffee business.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Remember how you felt when you visited a Spanish rustic town in Latin America? Latin America is home to some of the world’s most beautiful classical Spanish facades. Latin fronts blend with the tropical surroundings, cobbled streets, terracotta roofs and exotic sun filled style squares. These small magical towns are our inspiration for Abogados Café brick-and-mortar shop. Abogados Café focuses on specialty Latin American coffee. When was the last time you visited a Latina-owned coffee business in America? Pretty rare. We want to reclaim coffee´s Latin American heritage and bring the Latin American coffee culture and experience to your home.

It is important to us that we take care of the planet and support the farmers producing the coffee beans we use. That’s why all of our beans are certified USDA Organic and Fair Trade. When you drink Abogados coffee, it not only tastes good, but you can feel good knowing you are supporting ethical and sustainable practices. We want everybody to enjoy our coffee, but we also want to tell the story behind each coffee. We have worked hard to carefully select beans that support our philosophy.

We are proud to offer beans that support the Latin American coffee community, for example, our single origin Colombian Café Femenino comes from the COSURCA cooperative of farms in Cauca – a community of women coffee farmers based in Cauca – the women of the Café Femenino Colombia Program. Since 2004, this program has functioned as an arm of the greater Café Femenino®, an organization and movement empowering women coffee farmers, originating in Peru and now spanning nine countries. While women have always played a vital role in coffee production, they were not always recognized or directly compensated for their work. In 2003, a few women in northern Peru changed this by co-founding Café Femenino® alongside Organic Products Trading Company. Through their courage and action, women were finally recognized as coffee producers and paid accordingly for the coffee they produced.

We are on a mission to bring you the Latin American coffee experience, while supporting ethical standards that benefit our farmers and the planet.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Two things:

1- We love decaf coffee! Most decaf you find out there is very bad. It tastes awful. Ours is one of the best we have ever tried. And sometimes you just want a nice cup of coffee but without the caffeine. We got you covered!

2- We are passionate about mentoring. Both Ofelia and Inti are currently involved and support different mentoring programs and organizations.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Jeff Schad
Rachel Arnold

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