A growing wave of coffee shops run by enterprising Latinxs are influencing the work of baristas everywhere with their whimsical caffeinated concoctions that combine the flavors of the local panaderia and Starbucks culture. The result, lattes spiked with horchata, churro, or cajeta syrups, dusted with Mexican sweets, and culturally-relevant third spaces.
These sorts of offerings in Detroit’s local coffee shop scene have historically been rather slim, aside from the occasional mocha beverage made with Abuelita chocolate. Thanks to Cafecito Alvarez, a pop-up that launched earlier this year in southwest Detroit, that may be beginning to change.
Cafecito Alvarez was founded over the summer by Ana Alvarez, who spent several years working at a certain coffee chain, along with sisters Alicia, Adriana, and Alondra. The pop-up offers an array of coffee shop favorites, but with a Mexican twist. In addition to more traditional beverages like cafe de olla (which they steep in cinnamon and whole cane sugar) the sisters have developed a line of house-made syrups that are infused with the essence of churros, calabaza, and mazapán — the extremely popular disc-shaped, Mexican peanut confection. The sisters’ mother has even gotten in on the action, with her own secret recipe for Mexican hot chocolate.
Adriana Alvarez tells Eater that she’s the pop-up’s de facto syrup mixologist. “I use a combination of everything that was made for a mazapán until I formed a liquid foundation for it,” she says of the mazapán flavor. Ana Alvarez says that she and had taken a recent trip in Texas where she found inspiration for the business while visiting a handful of Latinx-owned cafes.
So far, the pop-up has enjoyed a dedicated fanbase among Detroiters, in particular Latinxs, who’ve found that Cafecito Alvarez’s rotating menu resonates with the community. As such, the sisters have popped up mostly in other Mexican-owned establishments like Mi Pueblo Express, La Bamba Supermarket in Lincoln Park, and their family-owned Alvarez Party Store, as well as at Batch Brewing Company, and most recently at 27th Letter Books.
Longterm, the hope is to potentially buy a truck so that the pop-up can expand as a more readily available mobile enterprise. In the meantime, nothing wrong with a hearty Mexican breakfast, a hot Chocolate Alvarez, and, as the sisters say, buenas vibras.