A new café in Como Park Saint Paul celebrates the heritage and legal backgrounds of Latin American owners – the Twin Cities

On the corner of Dale Street and Edgar Avenue is Abogados Café – the only coffee shop in St Paul’s Como Park neighborhood.

The Abogados Café, which is run by two Honduran lawyers under the law firm, opened on June 14 and now offers a café and fast food market for those in the neighborhood.

Wife and husband owners Ophelia Ponce and Inti Martinez Aleman noted the need for a coffee shop in the area because Martinez Aleman’s law firm, Ciba Forte, is located directly above the current coffee shop. While working in the office, they had to drive routes for coffee, often from chain cafes. Ponce has always loved coffee, so I thought creating her own coffee shop would be a great idea.

The new Abu Gadus Café on North Dale Street in St. Paul on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The café opened June 14, the only Latino-owned coffee shop in the state, owners say. (Scott Takeuchi/Pioneer Press)

In order to repartition the property, Pons and Martinez Alemán had to collect signatures from the residents of the neighborhood. Even before hearing about Abogados Café’s plans, neighbors were saying “Oh, a café would be nice.” There is a café at the nearby Como Park Zoo.

Abogados means lawyers in Spanish, and is a tribute to Ponce and Martínez-Alemán’s backgrounds as lawyers. Both grew up in Honduras, attended college in the United States and then returned to Honduras for law school.

After eventually returning to the United States, Martinez Aleman attended Mitchell Hamlin College of Law. He passed the bar exam in 2016 and soon started the law firm that is still operating today. Ceiba Fôrte focuses on commercial litigation as well as some civil and employment litigation, primarily for Hispanic business owners.

“Every attorney who helps Hispanics somehow tends to practice immigration, which is great, you know, there’s a huge need there,” Martinez Aleman said. “But nobody helps them with their business, real estate needs, renter needs, or car needs, as if only Hispanics have immigration issues.”

After getting married in 2018, Ponce also joined Mitchell Hamlin and did her graduate degree in 2019 for overseas trained lawyers.

“We want to stay true to who we are in our backgrounds,” Pons said. Besides both law-practicing husband and wife, Martinez Aleman’s mother and grandfather were lawyers.

Abogados Café maintains the lawyer theme with a range of specialty coffee drinks named after various legal sentences. Movement grants, Ex Parte and Sua Sponte, to name a few. The coffee beans are roasted at a local roaster, Roastery 7, and the beans are sourced only from Latin American countries: Mexico, Honduras, Colombia and Peru.

During the morning rush, Martínez-Alemán likes to welcome customers and talk to them while they wait in line.

“Those five or six minutes that they wait for their coffee may seem shorter because I talk to them,” Martinez Aleman, “and he hears their thoughts, biases, and preferences because coffee is so personal. There is no one way to make coffee, and so you want to hear what they’re looking for.”

This elegant atmosphere is found not only in the owners, but in the cafe itself. From the colorful mural of the Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua to the intricate floor tiles, every detail is meant to help clients feel like they’re moving to a small Latin American town.

“Every detail is for people to feel welcome,” Ponce said. “It’s not like a random selection of things.”

Ponce and Martínez-Alemán hope to expand their space with indoor and outdoor seating options. They also want to provide educational lessons to the community about the many ways to make coffee and the different notes and flavors that make each coffee blend unique. In fact, their coffee is so unique that they actually hold the title of “the best decaf in town”.

For more information, visit the coffee shop at 1053 Dell Street or at coffeeinlaw.com.

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