From Mexico by way of Portland, Dahlia coffee thrives in Cleveland's daily coffee news published by Roast Magazine

From Mexico by way of Portland, Dahlia coffee thrives in Cleveland's daily coffee news published by Roast Magazine

At the new Dahilia Coffee in Cleveland. All photos courtesy of Dahlia Coffee.

Combining the owner's Mexican heritage with the Pacific Northwest's passion for quality coffee, Dahlia Coffee has opened its first retail location in Cleveland, Ohio.

In a shared space inside the Pivot Center for Arts, Dance and Expression in Cleveland's staunchly Latino neighborhood of Clark-Fulton, the coffee company serves dulce de leche, mazapan, mochas made with stone-ground Mexican chocolate, and locally baked treats like guava rolls. And empanadas.

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Processed using VSCO with f2 preset

An earthy orange wall brings visual warmth to the exposed white-painted brick behind the company's white café. The Virgin of Guadalupe appears on vases hand-painted by a Mexican artist and displayed on natural wood shelves. Paintings by Mexican artists adorn the walls. The company takes its name from the national flower of Mexico.

“I wanted the colors to scream ‘Mexico!’ but in a modern way,” Natalia Alcazar, founder and roaster of Dahlia Coffee, told Daily Coffee News. “I love how the terracotta orange color reminds me of a cantaro, a classic clay pot in which Mexicans make food, hot chocolate or even coffee, like Café de Olla.”

As a Latino entrepreneur, Alcazar hopes the company will contribute to increased diversity and representation in the coffee industry, as well as in Cleveland's local business scene. Alcazar, whose parents were born in Michoacan, Mexico, seeks to highlight Mexican culture while also drawing on her coffee-drinking experiences in Portland, Oregon.

Natalia Alcazar Dalia Cafe

Founder Dalia Covey Natalia Alcazar.

“Growing up in Portland, I became obsessed with coffee,” Alcazar told Daily Coffee News. “I've always wanted to roast coffee. It was one of my dreams in my early 20s that was put on hold due to the high cost of starting a business on my own.

To launch Dahlia, Alcazar found support from several Cleveland-based nonprofits, including a $2,500 grant from the MetroWest Community Development Organization, and a $3,000 grant from the Hispanic Business Center for Marketing and Equipment. Cleveland nonprofit JumpStart's Latino Impact program provided small business management training, mentorship and a $20,000 loan.

After noticing the growing number of Latin American-style coffee companies sprouting up and down the West Coast, the demand identified by the former disability insurance professional may also be present in Cleveland.

Dahlia Coffee Cleveland Roasters

Dalia Coffee 1 kg, Al Madinah Roastery Mill.

Alcazar began roasting with a 1-kilo Mill City Roasters machine last May, and recently worked with a 10-kilo Proaster at the First Crack co-roasting facility in Cleveland to meet store requirements.

“It's only two months old, but (the café) is getting a lot of attention in Cleveland because I'm the only Mexican café in town,” Alcazar said. “The location I am in now is great, but I would like to maintain this location and expand into a location where I can be an independent café with my own seating.”

As a one-woman roaster, Alcazar takes advantage of the green offerings available through First Crack, which in turn buys coffee from importers like Sucafina and Cafe Imports.

“I wanted to focus on coffees in Mexico and Central and South America,” Alcazar said of Dahlia's selection of six single-origin coffees. “However, I love Ethiopian coffee, so I put one natural Ethiopian coffee on my list. I haven't created any blends, but I will in the future.

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Processed using VSCO with hb2 preset

With a café up and running and a model that appears to be working, Dahlia is poised to flourish even more in and around Forest City.

“I would like to hire two people to roast, package and ship the coffee. At this time, I do everything on my own and never take a day off,” Alcazar said. “I would like to have my own roasting facility and purchase a larger roaster… I would like to stay in Same neighborhood, hopefully my larger location can accommodate the smaller location.”

Dahlia Cafe is located at 2937 West 25th Street in Cleveland.

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