Cafecito Bonito, a space inspired by Hispanic flavors
by ISABELLE MERCADO
The characteristic smell of freshly brewed coffee and baked hot buns makes you think of the warmth of a home, of shared memories with your family, of brotherhood, this is how many Hispanics who left their country to look for new and better opportunities in the United States would describe it. That warmth, smells and flavors is what Cafecito Bonito has to offer.
The space that opened in April at the East Anchorage Mall belongs to Estrella Elizabeth Rodriguez-Northcutt, the daughter of an American mother and a Mexican father. Since she was 15 years old and had her first experience with coffee in a job as a barista in Yuma, a place where she grew up and is located southwest of Arizona at the border with Mexico in Sonora.
“Having a coffee shop has always been a dream for me, but like most dreams, it took time. It happened when my old employer asked if I was interested in buying their second location. I felt the timing was right and that’s why I accepted, I had about three weeks to give it the identity I wanted and began remodeling it,” Estrella said.
Café de Olla (traditional Mexican coffee prepared in a clay pot that gives it a special flavor), Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus cold tea), horchata latte, cappuccinos, and more, integrate the menu of Cafecito Bonito “Drinks are inspired by Latin American flavors, coffee, my favorite drink, is the main item and represents different places of Latin America, for example a Spanish Latte, is a popular drink in the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez-Northcutt moved to Alaska to study agronomy “When I moved to Anchorage, at first I didn’t feel at home, I was missing something, food, drink, shops, and just the way of life. For some reason, every time I went to a Mexican restaurant, went to a bakery, visited a candy store, or spoke Spanish literally with anyone, I felt comfortable, familiar, and it reminded me of Mexico, my country. So, I decided that was what I wanted people to feel. I have drinks and flavors from many regions because I want my customers to feel at home when they come in,” she said.
By doing this, Estrella contributes to generate ties among the Hispanic community in Anchorage. “It is encouraging to meet Hispanics, although Anchorage is a large city, it feels small, the same people frequent the same places, for example, mass in Spanish, the grocery store, social gatherings and community events”.
Estrella points out that she would like more young adults at different Hispanic events, which is why inside her cafeteria she has begun hosting events such as small concerts or LGBTQ shows.
Cafecito Bonito adds a cozy space decorated with terracotta mosaics imported from Mexico, cheerful colors, and objects reminiscent of childhood to the growing economic and cultural Latino strength in the United States.
Visit Cafecito Bonito at 6307 Debarr Road.
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