“To have coffee is to share community with somebody”- Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association
Coffee is more than just a drink. It’s a shared social experience, a set of traditions and norms that bring people together. Whether you drink it on your commute to work or sit down for a couple of hours at a coffee house with an old friend, coffee has become a significant cultural object in Downtown Santa Ana. DTSA has become a hub for coffee shops and cafes, each showcasing their individuality through taste, aesthetic, and atmosphere. How could one drink have such a widespread influence on Santa Ana? Through perspectives of business owners, locals, and coffee lovers, this question is explored to reveal the underlying culture of coffee in DTSA.
“Coffee is simultaneously deeply technical and social. It is an endless pursuit of quality in the context of social interaction” -Truman, Hopper and Burr
Hopper and Burr has been serving specialty coffee to DTSA since 2016. They produce excellent, forward-thinking coffee and food that is approachable and welcoming. Hopper and Burr pushes back connotations and boundaries associated with coffee. DTSA is unique in that it behaves like a big city, because there is so much history and there is a city center; however, it is different because of the tight-knit community. Hopper and Burr depend on the community for their relationships. DTSA is unique in that it is tightly connected to its businesses. Hopper and Burr is a place where customers can take ownership and pride in their community. Truman, one of the owners, is highly knowledgeable on the technical side of coffee, but he knows the importance of connecting with people in the community. This emphasis of community is shown through his approach to presenting quality coffee. The integrity of the coffee is obvious, showing the passion that goes into the craft.
Photo from @hopperandburr
“Community is the core of what we are.”- Sam, Café Cultura
Café Cultura is the epitome of what it looks like to bring tradition in a modern age. The goal of Café Cultura is to make the community comfortable, while presenting Mexican traditions and flavors in an innovative way. Through their quality food and coffee, Mexico is introduced to Santa Ana in a way that is also welcoming to non-Hispanics, a key role in bringing the community together. As soon as you walk in, you hear Spanish music and are surrounded by bright colors and decorations from Mexico. The menu is in English and Spanish, showing that all are welcomed. The enthusiasm and dedication from the staff is obvious, making you want to come back for more. The whole atmosphere of Café Cultura is more than welcoming, it’s a genuine expression of Mexican American pride, highlighting what DTSA has to offer. The coffee culture of Café Cultura is global, because they importing coffee beans from Chiapas, which are influenced by traditional flavors and spices. This global coffee culture is then localized through the fusion of tradition in Santa Ana. Their Café de Olla is unique because they fuse spices with their coffee beans, providing a delicious black coffee that is sweet and requires no add ins. They have so many more special coffee drinks that reflect their culture, such as the Café Brew de Olla and the Horchata Latte.
Pictured: Café Cultura, (right) Café Brew de Olla
“Santa Ana is a culture of its own.” -Senah Kim, Maz Café Con Leche
Maz Café Con Leche is yet another establishment that is breaking down preconceived notions of coffee shops. As a forward-thinking, innovative coffee shop, Maz Café Con Leche is redefining what it means to means to be a coworking space. This place fosters warmth, love, and inspiration for the community, as they hold many events to supports the and showcase individuals in DTSA. It is a celebration of Hispanic culture, using unique flavors such as their Mazapan Latte or their Abuelita Latte. The goal of this coffee shop is not just to serve coffee, but to create a safe space where the community of DTSA can come together and lift each other up.
Pictured: Maz Café Con Leche
“A coffee house is just a living room for the neighborhood.” -Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association
Everyone has a special relationship with coffee. For Peter Giuliano, his relationship with coffee started from his relationship with his grandfather, who was a notorious coffee drinker. Peter’s relationship with coffee evolved in college, where he found comfort in coffee houses. He worked, played, and studied in coffee houses where characters outside the norm were embraced and welcomed. To him, coffee encouraged those who were different and off-beat, something that really resonated with his desire to be individualistic. His relationship with coffee grew as he traveled to places where they grew and distributed coffee beans, giving him a much wider and global understanding of something he loved. He learned the different terminology, sources, and scientific sides to coffee. Fast-forward to today, Peter has seen a change in coffee culture in DTSA that is positive and unique. He has witnessed how the localization of coffee culture has brought community together in a special way. DTSA has made coffee it’s own. Coffee has grown into a community-wide specialization.
Santa Ana has a unique coffee culture in that coffee is being interpreted as Latin American. DTSA has a diversity of coffee- from Hopper and Burr to Portola Coffee Roasters, Café Cultura, Coffee Muse, and the Den Cafe- each place is reflecting community in different ways.
Coffee shops are a place for people to interact and feel safe. It’s a place where you can share information and experiences with anyone in the context of coffee. Creating moments that focus on building community is what DTSA is about. This is obvious from the way coffee is viewed and presented by members of the community. There is so much more meaning that is poured into your cup every day. Coffee is not just a beverage, it is a visual representation of community pride, individual expression, and cultural traditions that bring people together.
Special thanks to:
Senah Kim from @mazcafeconleche
Truman from @hopperandburr
Sam and Frank from @cafeculturadtsa
Peter Giuliano from @specialtycoffeeassociation
Story by Breanna Policar