Abogados Café and Mercadito: an ode to coffee and the law

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Ofelia Ponce and Inti Martínez-Alemán opened Abogados Café and Mercadito in June, an establishment honoring their Latin American heritage and legal careers.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Guests entering Abogados Café and Mercadito At first, they may feel like they’ve been transported to a small town in Latin America. Inside the cozy gourmet cafe and bar on Dale Street in St. Paul, the floors are covered in traditional Mexican talavera tiles. A mural at the entrance features a beautiful scene from Antigua. You will see curved tiled archways and paintings from Honduras.

“Every detail you see…it’s not a coincidence,” said co-owner Ofelia
Mackerel. “It’s planned. It’s with lots of love.”

Love, too, is poured into every gourmet beer in Latin America, home to Ponce and her husband, co-owner Inti Martínez-Alemán. Their grains and blends are intentionally premium, as is their detailed soil measuring and tamping process.

They make sure the espresso is mixed evenly before being served and have a “good relationship” with their Latin American coffee farmers. Ponce and Martínez-Alemán, who met in Honduras and later married in the United States, ensure that their culture is represented as well as their coffee.

“We are happy and grateful to have the opportunity to serve the community here,” Ponce said.

But the multicultural design and atmosphere aren’t the only unique elements of the new establishment. If you look at the menu, you’ll see a lot of legalese. Ponce and Martínez-Alemán aren’t just small business owners, they’re lawyers. And Martínez-Alemán continues to operate a business litigation practice at the top.

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“We wanted this business to be an extension of ourselves, rather than trying to branch out and sell things we don’t know about,” Martínez-Alemán said. “We know the law. We know the coffee. So we just sell what we’re already used to because we can talk about it.”

Their drink names also speak to this. A latte called “Motion Granted” features sweetened coconut, “because there’s nothing better than having your request, or that of your customer, granted,” Martínez-Alemán said. .

“Ex Parte” features flavors of coffee, lavender, and French vanilla, but no milk.

“Ex Parte in law means that only one of the parties is present and the other is absent,” Martínez-Alemán said. “In this case, only coffee is present and milk is gone. You’re the judge, hanging out with coffee and lavender. But no milk present.”

There is also “Fearless Lawtte” and “Cold Call”.

The couple say business has been good since opening in June. They said there was usually a line outside the door on Fridays and Saturdays. Soon, they plan to open an indoor lounge area, which will be in the same space as their mercadito, or “little market”.

“We have special Latin American products,” Ponce said. “The Latinos who live here in the United States have started their own business, like us, so we have products that they have purchased. We have tried these products.”

Ponce hopes their new business, a dream come true, will inspire other entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Don’t be afraid and do it.”

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