Cafecito Organico: A Coffee Roaster With a Conscience + Permanent Home

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Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 6:57 AM

For years, Cafecito Organico has been a coffee shop with no home. But now, after six years of serving coffee from a tent at the Hollywood and Silver Lake farmers markets, the local coffee roaster will have a permanent address in Silver Lake.

Angel Orozco, the 35-year-old owner of Cafecito Organico, and his business partner, Mitch Hale, plan to open their coffee shop on the corner of Hoover and Bellevue the first week in March. The 600-square foot restaurant space--once occupied by Territory BBQ--is a big step up: the coffee roaster's previous base of operations was a Dodge Sprinter van.

click to enlarge BROOKE BURTON
  • Brooke Burton

Cafecito Organico will continue to offer their locally roasted beans and individually brewed organic coffees from Peru, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Traditional espresso drinks will be served as well, including specialty drinks like "The Cafecito Organico"--a double ristretto shot of Clandestino Espresso, steamed milk, and raw sugar cane juice from Hollywood Farmers' market vendor, Super Juice. In addition to coffees and tea, the shop will serve pastries from Delilah Bakery, vegan treats from C'est La V (a Hollywood Farmers' Market neighbor), and handful of menu items made in-house.

click to enlarge Mitch Hale and Angel Orozco - BROOKE BURTON
  • Brooke Burton
  • Mitch Hale and Angel Orozco

Raised in southern California since he was eight, Guatemalan-born Orozco started Cafecito Organico in 2004 after studying Urban Planning and Latin American Studies during graduate school at UCLA. He began to get interested in coffee when he saw the socio-political impact it had on indigenous farmers. "It's through coffee that some of the people focused on survival in these regions will get out of those situations."

Hale, a professional barista and coffee consultant, partnered with Orozco in June, after the pair met while developing a specialty roast for one of Hale's business clients. Hale plans on using his experience in management (Caffe Luxxe and Espresso Profeta) and barista training from Seattle's legendary coffee shop, Espresso Vivace, to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere. "We are not slick hipsters," says Hale. "Our baristas will dress how they want but will be trained to serve coffee and espresso drinks at the highest level."

Without deep pockets and investors to rely on, the caffeinated pair searched for months for the right space. "This is a dream," says Hale. "I've been trying to get to this moment for nine years."

In order to meet customer demand and increased sales from their wholesale business to local shops such as Stories Bookstore, Locali, Kiss My Bundt, Pazzo Gelato, Tribal Café, and Delila Bakery Orozco and Hale partnered with Antigua Traditional Roaster in Cypress Park to increase roasting capabilities. According to Hale, Antigua's roaster can roast large batches of coffee beans in a much cleaner way that offers a more flavorful final product.

Farmers market regulars need not fret about getting their caffeine fix, Orozco and Hale plan on maintaining their presence at the Hollywood and Silver Lake farmers markets while selling specialty roasts from their permanent storefront Tuesdays through Saturdays.

click to enlarge BROOKE BURTON
  • Brooke Burton

Though Orozco is excited about Cafecito Organico's home, the political activist can't help but consider the effect his business will have on Silver Lake. "I hope we'll bring a positive change for the community," Orozco says. Cafecito Organico "will provide a welcoming space to the neighborhood, support the community, and bring a nice color scheme."

Indeed. The corner building's sunshine-yellow spire is a bright spot on an otherwise low traffic block dotted with a Latino grocery store, a medical marijuana "Green Church," a tattoo shop, and a dimly lit Botanica that sells magical potions.

Cafecito Organico; 534 North Hoover St., Silver Lake; (323) 666-1950.

Brooke Burton is also the author of Foodwoolf.com.

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