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Cajeta, Mazapan, and Rompope Lattes: Ten Latino-Owned Coffeeshops to Try in L.A.

11:39 AM PDT on July 8, 2022

On a warm summer day back in 2017 as I scrolled through the Explore feature on Instagram, an image of a concha ice cream sandwich caught my attention.  I pressed on the image hoping that the eatery was somewhere in Los Angeles so I could visit it. Indeed, the mesmerizing treat was from Horchatería Rio Luna, a Mexican American owned dessert and coffee shop in the Southeast Los Angeles community of Paramount. I shared Horchateria’s profile with a friend hoping that she would find the coffee shop as exciting as I thought it was. Within minutes, she replied asking if we could visit Horchatería that same day. That evening, we indulged in ice cold creamy horchata Frappuccinos and we shared a delicious concha ice cream sandwich. 

Since that day in 2017, I began my search for other Latino-owned and inspired coffee shops in Southern California. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, I loved this quest so much that I created a research project for my PhD studies based on these coffee shops. It was the most enjoyable way that I could imagine studying Latino entrepreneurship, millennial-influenced culture, regional Latino identities, and community “third spaces” or places that were neither home nor work. Since I was curious about these distinctive coffee shops, I thought others might be too.

I have spent the past two years interviewing Latino coffee shop owners in Los Angeles and the broader Southern California region to learn about how and why they enter the coffee business. What stands out from these interviews is the pride that these coffee shop owners have in their Latino identities—whether that be Mexican, Mexican American, Guatemalan American, Salvadoran American, or others—and their desire to form community spaces where they could innovatively infuse familiar ingredients in coffee shop drinks and treats.

By providing coffee options that incorporate flavors like horchata, mazapan, cajeta, tamarindo, and chocolate Abuelita, these Latino coffee shops provide customers, especially Latinos, with a delicious and more relatable alternative to major chain stores. In this way, these 10 coffee shops I highlight here brew so much more than just coffee. They brew cultura in a way that speaks to Los Angeles and for Los Angeles.

While this list is far from comprehensive, it should get you started on your journey to find your favorite Latino-owned coffee shops in Los Angeles.   

Chismosa Café

 1905 W Badillo St, West Covina, CA 91790

Chismosa Café located in West Covina is home to the Taro-Chata, the Chai Gurl, and the East Los Chisme Drip. You can’t go wrong with ordering their West Cochina Burrito loaded with braised pork in salsa verde, bacon, eggs, potatoes, cheese, and crema. Pair it with their version of the Americano--a Mexican Americano (get it?). Chismosa owner Allen also has vegan options like the vegan Chorizo Burrito. When you visit, check out the quirky L.A. décor like the prayer candles emblazoned with the faces of Kobe Bryant and Selena. I would recommend this place for weekend brunch and chisme the next time you are in the area!

Café Santo

520 Whittier Blvd #D, Montebello, CA 90640 

According to owners Marlon and Pilar, Café Santo is a contemporary Oaxacan coffee shop. The two collaborate with artisanal chefs and artists from Oaxaca and Los Angeles to make their delicious drinks. You can find the traditional coffee shop menu of lattes, drips, cappuccinos as well as Oaxacan chocolate drinks. The Chocolate Oaxaqueno traditional contains traditional Oaxacan Chocolate blended with almonds and cinnamon, and milk. The Semiamargo is made of cacao, cane sugar, cinnamon, and milk. If you stop by for a cafecito at Cafe Santo in Montebello, be sure to check out the rest of the BLVD Market businesses including Pez Cantina, Los Taquero Mucho, and the Chicken Koop.

Coffee del Mundo

7414 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90044. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 111, 204, or 754 - "Vermont/Florence."

Coffee del Mundo is a Black and Afro-Latino-owned and operated coffee shop in South L.A. Owner Jonathan is proud to offer a 100% dairy-free menu. He sources coffee beans from El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia ---just to name a few countries. You can pick up bottled cold brews like Caco Blanco Bottled Cold Brew, Café De Olla Bottled Cold Brew, or made-to-order drinks. I recommend the Caramelo made of natural caramel syrup and oat milk for a satisfying and not-too-sweet afternoon pick-me-up. Stop by Coffee del Mundo for great coffee and company!

Guerilla Cafecito

704 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 60 or 62 - "7th/Santa Fe (eastbound)" or "7th/Imperial (westbound)."

In the mood for coffee and burritos? If yes, check out Guerilla Cafecito in the Arts District. This coffeeshop is created by Brittney and her team at Guerrilla Tacos located right next door. Try the GTLA burrito full of steak, hash browns, cheese, avocado, and salsa with a hot coffee. If you want something sweet, I recommend the horchata donut—it is soft yet rich and dense. The next time I go, I will be sure to try their Tamarind Espresso Tonic. That’s right, a Tamarind espresso tonic! Genius, right? As you eat and drink, enjoy the beautiful murals reminiscent of East LA fashion and cars of the past.

Azucanela

13307 S Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 215 - "Inglewood/132nd."

401 E Foothill Blvd, Azusa, CA 91702. Closest Metro line and stop: Metro A Line - "Azusa Downtown Station."

If you are looking for made-to-order churros and café de olla on the Westside, go to Azucanela. You can choose Abuelita chocolate, cajeta, or a raspberry dipping sauce for your warm churros. They are heavenly! Owner Eduardo and his team offer café de olla or any of their Mexican-inspired drinks steaming hot or iced.  I recommend the Ranchero Avocado Toast with avocado, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and a fried egg. Azucanela’s Hawthorne location has a beautiful backyard patio with plenty of seating to relax, meet up with friends, or work on your laptop. They also have a second location in Azusa you can check out. 

Confidential Coffee

137 W 6th St, Long Beach, CA 90802. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 232 - "Long Beach/6th" or Metro A Line - "5th Street Station."

If you are in Long Beach, check out Confidential Coffee. It is an oasis of coffee and pastries in busy downtown LB. Try their house specials like the cajeta latte, Mazapan latte, or the Rompompe latte—yes, you read that right—Rompompe (Mexican eggnog).  My personal favorite is the matcha horchata—I love both flavors so much so imagine them together! Smooth. Owner Denise has a community library full of books available for customers to peruse and read. Check out Confidential Coffee for great coffee and a relaxing environment. 

Café Calle

3310 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 53 - "Central/33rd." or Bus Line 102 - "Jefferson/Central."

Café Calle is located on historic South Central Avenue. It recently opened this past March and it has quickly become the neighborhood’s place to visit for a cup of coffee. At Café Calle, you can pick up an acai or pitaya bowl, a chile relleno burrito, and coffee drinks infused with flavors ranging from honey lavender to café de olla. The shop is also home to a beautiful mural of a coffee farm in El Salvador—where owner Diana’s family hails from and where she sources her coffee beans. Stop by for a cafecito and stay for the fun. Café Calle will host a “Arte, Cultura, y Poesia” event on July 9th from 6-9pm. Open mic sign-ups begin at 6pm! They will also have local vendors at the event.

Cara Vana

 5629 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 152, 154, 224, or 237 - "Lankershim/Burbank."

Cara Vana is a serene coffee shop suitable for breakfast or lunch in North Hollywood. When you visit, pair their delicious iced horchata latte or the tamarindo cold brew with the frijoles avocado toast. Owner Adriana and her team offer a twist on overnight oats– try their matcha overnight oats or their horchata overnight oats. Their indoor space has plenty of seating and they have a small patio in the back. Cara Vana is a cozy place to hang out solo or with friends. Whether you live in the Valley or not, Cara Vana has refreshing drinks and healthy food options!

Picaresca Barra de Café

1300 S Soto St #9, Los Angeles, CA 90023. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 62, 66, or 251 - "Soto/Olympic."

 If you are in the Boyle Heights area, stop by Picaresca Barra de Café. I recommend the matcha de olla, a twist on the iced matcha with café de olla syrup. Try it with oatmilk for a creamy unforgettable drink. Picaresca owners Elisa and Leo partner with local chefs like Metztli Taqueria, la. Novia, Brute Tenacity, and Miracle Bakery to offer delicious brunch items. I tried a Korean pulled pork crunch wrap made by Some Daze LA and devoured it before I even pulled out of the parking lot. It was that good. After grabbing coffee and food from Picaresca, shop around the mini-mall. You’ll find discounted household items, furniture, plants, and clothes while supporting Latino small business owners.

Horchatería Rio Luna

15950 Paramount Blvd, Paramount, CA 90723. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 128, 258, or 265 - "Paramount/Alondra."

231 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 234 - "Maclay/4th." or Bus Lines 224, 294, or 761 - "Truman/Maclay."

In the mood for café de olla frappe or perhaps a strawberry paleta frappe? Horchateria is home to the famous ice cream concha sandwich. They also have delicious churros with accompanying dipping sauces that draw customers from all corners of LA. Since re-locating their Paramount location to Paramount Boulevard in 2020, Horchateria owners Ashley and David host art exhibits and community events in their space. They also have the best merchandise including Selena and Bad Bunny car air fresheners, coffee mugs with hilarious sayings, and concha coin purses and pillows. Horchateria has a second location in San Fernando–just a mile away from the iconic San Fernando Swap Meet.

If you are looking for more recommendations, follow me on Instagram @Latinxcafecitos where I share more Latino-owned coffeeshops in Los Angeles, the OC, the 619, and in other cities when I travel.

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