New Cafe in St. Paul’s Como Park Celebrates Latin American Heritage and Owners’ Legal History – Twin Cities

At the corner of Dale St. and Edgar Ave. sits Abogados Café – the only café in the St. Paul’s Como Park neighborhood.

Run by two Honduran lawyers under their law firm, Abogados Café opened on June 14 and now offers a take-out cafe and market for neighborhood residents.

Wife and husband owners Ofelia Ponce and Inti Martínez-Alemán noticed the need for a cafe in the area because Martínez-Alemán’s law firm, Ceiba Fôrte, sits just above what is now coffee. While working in the office, they had to drive for coffee, and often from a chain of coffee shops. Ponce has always loved coffee, so she thought starting her own cafe would be a great idea.

The new Abogados Cafe on North Dale Street in St. Paul on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The cafe opened June 14, the only Latino-owned cafe in the state, according to the owners. (Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press)

In order to rezone the property, Ponce and Martínez-Alemán had to collect signatures from neighborhood residents. Before even hearing the plans for Abogados Café, the neighbors were saying “Oh, a coffee would be nice.” There is a cafe at the nearby Como Park Zoo.

Abogados means lawyers in Spanish, which is a tribute to Ponce and Martínez-Alemán’s background as lawyers. They both grew up in Honduras, attended college in the United States, and then returned to Honduras to study law.

After eventually returning to the United States, Martínez-Alemán attended the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He passed the bar exam in 2016 and quickly established the law firm he still works for today. Ceiba Fôrte focuses on commercial litigation as well as certain civil and labor litigation, primarily for Hispanic business owners.

“Every lawyer who helps Hispanics kind of tends to practice immigration (law), and that’s great, you know, there’s a lot of need out there,” Martínez-Alemán said. “But nobody helps them with their businesses or their real estate needs or their landlord tenant needs or their car needs, like Hispanics just have immigration issues.”

After getting married in 2018, Ponce also dated Mitchel Hamline and graduated in 2019 with a postgraduate degree for internationally trained lawyers.

“We want to stay true to who we are in our origins,” Ponce said. Besides husband and wife practicing law, Martínez-Alemán’s mother and grandfather were both lawyers.

Abogados Café continues the avocado theme with a range of specialty coffee drinks named after different legal phrases. Motion Granted, Ex Parte and Sua Sponte, to name a few. The coffee beans are roasted at a local roastery, Roastery 7, and the beans are sourced only from Latin American countries: Mexico, Honduras, Colombia and Peru.

During the morning rush, Martínez-Alemán likes to greet customers and chat with them as they wait in line.

“Those five, six minutes they wait for their coffee may seem shorter because I’m talking to them”, Martínez-Alemán, “And I can hear their thoughts, their prejudices and their preferences because coffee is very personal. It doesn’t There’s no one way to make coffee, so you want to know what they’re looking for.

This pleasant atmosphere is not only found in the owners, but in the cafe itself. From the colorful mural of Antigua’s Santa Catalina Arch to the intricate tilework, every detail is meant to make guests feel like they’ve been transported to a small town in Latin America.

“Every detail is to make people feel welcome,” Ponce said. “It’s not like a random selection of things.”

Ponce and Martínez-Alemán hope to expand their space with indoor and outdoor seating options. They also want to offer educational classes to the community about the many ways to make coffee and the different notes and flavors that make each coffee blend unique. In fact, their coffee is so unique that they already hold the self-proclaimed title of “best decaf in town”.

For more information, visit the cafe at 1053 Dale St. or coffeeinlaw.com.