PORTAGE PARK — About 20 years ago, Ron Eric Edrosa walked into a chain coffee shop and bought an exquisite cup of joe. The next day, he returned to the store and ordered the same drink — and it was terrible.
Looking to recreate that first perfect cup, Edrosa researched coffee and the industry, experimenting with home brews and buying professional coffee gadgets that filled his kitchen.
He thought, “‘Why can’t I have that cup again that I had originally?'” Edrosa said. “I started to figure out how I could do that myself. My hobby began to grow and grow.”
After a few years, Edrosa’s wife, Vilma, suggested they open their own coffee business. They connected with specialty coffee roasters and local coffee shop owners, who showed them what it takes to open a shop.
The couple secured a Six Corners storefront in 2019 at 3936 N. Cicero Ave. with hopes of opening the coffee shop. After qualifying for a grant from the city’s Small Business Improvement Fund and creating blueprints for construction, the pandemic hit. That changed the trajectory of what is now Veloria Coffee.
“We’ve never owned a business before, but it was one of our dreams to do that,” Ron Eric Edrosa said.
The couple opened as an online coffee roaster first to get their name out. After launching their online store two months ago, Veloria Coffee has popped up in local shops on the Far Northwest Side and in artist markets. There’s a plan to hold a pop-up market with other entrepreneurs in the space Dec. 4.
The Edrosas also will be at a pop-up market Dec. 12 at The Joy Room, 4837 W. Irving Park Road.
Last month, Veloria Coffee created a special roast in honor of neighbor Freddy Rafidi, the owner of Roma’s Italian Beef & Sausage. Rafidi has multiple sclerosis.
The Edrosas, who live above the roastery, said they are inching toward opening their coffee shop. But since they lost the grant funding because of the pandemic, they have had to rethink ways to raise money for the coffee shop buildout.
“In a way it’s backward, but, in a way, it helps us get our name out there knowing our goal is to have the shop in Six Corners,” Ron Eric Edrosa said. “We would love to be open by next summer.”
Vilma Edrosa, who is from the Philippines and works as a nurse full-time, said she admires her husband’s dedication to coffee and what she’s learned from him about the industry. As their kitchen filled up with coffee roasting gadgets and equipment, she knew there was potential to take her husband’s passion to the next level.
“Before I met him, I’d never seen any of the coffee gadgets,” Vilma Edrosa said. “But for him, it’s a different level. I feel like I’m in a lab. He has a great heart … .”
Since starting Veloria Coffee, Vilma Edrosa has learned to be more outgoing in managing the business and adapting when challenges arise. Seeing herself grow reminds her of her mother — which is how the couple decided to name their business Veloria.
“Veloria is my mom’s maiden name,” she said. “In her younger years, she was a hard-working woman. She tried to provide for us since my dad died early. I see her through this process, as well. In the hard work she did, I see myself.”
Vilma Edrosa’s mother died a few years ago, but her memory lives on with the business. Veloria Coffee’s logo also features the Philippines star from the country’s flag inside an outline of the Six Corners intersection.
“The only thing that’s free is dreaming big,” Vilma Edrosa said. “It’s exciting and scary, but I know that we can figure it out.”
For now, the husband-and-wife team is focused on roasting their 11 coffees in-house with an electric, sustainable coffee roaster that works in small batches. They also hope to install solar panels be consistent with their mission to produce coffee in an eco-friendly manner.
Veloria Coffee works with coffee farmers from all over the world, and the owners said they are proud to have rich flavors for any kind of drinker.
“If you order [the coffee] on a Friday or Saturday, I am going to roast it on Monday and you will have it on a Tuesday,” Ron Eric Edrosa said. “It’s fresh coffee that you can’t get in a lot of shops here in Chicago.”
The company just launched its first blend for the holidays: Solstice Blend, a darker roast with nutty cocoa, brown sugar, dried cherry and almond flavors.
While the cafe will specialize in coffee, Ron Eric Edrosa said they are also working on a tea program and plan to make chai in-house. He also wants the space to be a community hub for the neighborhood, especially with the loss of Fannie’s Cafe and as developments and businesses come to Six Corners.
When the cafe opens, Ron Eric Edrosa wants it to be “a second space to come and work and relax,” he said. “We are marching toward that.”
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