LOS ANGELES — A local Latino coffee roaster is making it his mission to bring specialty coffee to his community in Boyle Heights.
Leo Chavez feels since most beans come from Latin America, there should be more Latino visibility in coffee culture. He uses a small batch technique to roast beans from Oaxaca to use in his local shop Picaresca.
What You Need To Know
- Leo Chavez feels since most beans come from Latin America, there should be more Latino visibility in coffee
- He felt it was important to have more Latino roasters and café owners to represent the craft and culture from where the beans are grown
- Chavez and his partner and girlfriend Elisa Hoyos opened Picaresca in Boyle Heights
- Picaresca Café is located at 1300 S. Soto Street., Los Angeles, CA
“We try to find the best profile of the coffee. Something that is going to be sweet and will showcase the actual taste of the coffee,” said Chavez.
But what may be even more important than this precision is the connection. Chavez was born in Mexico, later moving to the United States and going to school for graphic design. He decided to work part-time in coffee shops, when he realized his passion was in coffee and decided to focus on roasting full-time.
“It was something where I could fit in. It’s an industry where I could use my language. I could speak Spanish to people. Not only that, but I understand the culture, too, which is very important when I travel,” said Chavez.
Most coffee beans come from Latin American farms. He felt it was important to have more Latino roasters and café owners to represent the craft and culture from where the beans are grown. He knows the struggles, so he wants to help by working directly with the farms.
“We have that connection that we can use to represent our people and help each other,” said Chavez.
Once the coffee was roasted, he needed a place to sell it.
That’s why Chavez and his partner and girlfriend Elisa Hoyos opened Picaresca in Boyle Heights. The café is tucked away in a mini-market with other Latino-owned businesses in a neighborhood they say doesn’t have much specialty coffee. According to LA City, the top language spoken at home in the area is Spanish.
“It helps to introduce our people to something that they never had before. If they wanted to have something like what we have, they would have to go to Silver Lake or Culver City and maybe they didn’t feel welcome because of the cultural or language barrier,” said Chavez.
Hoyos creates one of the culturally-inspired drinks that they hope makes specialty coffee approachable to those who may be trying it for the first time.
“It’s actually a traditional Mexican coffee. It is made with cinnamon, anise, orange peel and brown sugar,” she said.
The couple lives in Boyle Heights and didn’t want to change the neighborhood, just bring coffee to the community even at a lower price so everyone can enjoy.
“People in our community don’t really get to venture out and try this type of coffee. That is why it is important for us to be able to serve good quality coffee at an affordable price,” said Hoyos.
Picaresca Café is located at 1300 S. Soto Street. Los Angeles, CA 90023.