AVONDALE — A family-owned coffee shop specializing in Colombian coffee and treats is coming to Avondale.
Colombia natives Angelica Acebedo and her siblings Ricardo Acebedo-Diaz and Marisol Acebedo Fisher are opening Magnifico Coffee, a coffee shop and roastery, on the ground-floor of a condo building at 3063 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The family was one of 26 recipients of the city’s community development grant, a program designed to boost neighborhood businesses and institutions across Chicago. The grant will cover the cost of construction and bring the business to life, Angelica Acebedo said.
Magnifico Coffee is expected to open later this summer with coffee from Colombian farms and Colombian snacks, such as almojábanas, or fresh cheese bread, and milhojas, a dessert made with stacks of puff pastry and filled with creme patissiere.
“We’re just so excited. We cannot wait to open our doors,” Angelica Acebedo said. “I want to get permission to throw a big party so we can get a Colombian band.”
Magnifico Coffee is the Acebedo family’s first business.
Angelica Acebedo is a graphic designer who grew up in Bogotá before attending Northern Illinois University and later moving to Chicago. She and her tight-knit family came up with the idea of opening a coffee shop together last year as the pandemic dragged on.
“We didn’t lose our jobs, but I think [the pandemic] gave all of us an opportunity to reframe a little bit: Is this it? What else can we do as a family? We are always together as a family. We’re a little pack of elephants. We go everywhere together,” Angelica Acebedo said with a laugh.
Angelica Acebedo said her brother harnessed his connections to coffee farms in Colombia, while other family members took on other components of the business such as marketing and design, making the business a “full-blown family affair.”
The family signed a lease on the Milwaukee Avenue storefront, not far from where they live in West Town, with the goal of launching a coffee shop that celebrates their Colombian culture, which is often misrepresented, Angelica Acebedo said.
“If you see Colombia [on TV or in movies], of course there’s the coffee, but also the drug dealers,” she said. “This whole idea of sharing a cup of coffee in Colombia and breaking bread — it’s so important for us to share a little bit of our culture.”
Angelica Acebedo said they were “using whatever little money they had and getting loans” to get the business up and running when the city awarded them the community development grant, which propelled the project forward.
The $33.5 million grant program — funded by the Chicago Recovery Fund and Tax Increment Finance (TIF) dollars — is for entrepreneurs looking to open or upgrade businesses.
It’s unclear how much funding the Magnifico Coffee project will receive through the program because the family is still doing paperwork, but the program offers small grants up to $250,000 and large grants up to $5 million.
With the grant, Angelica Acebedo said they’ll be able to finish building out the 1,200-square-foot Milwaukee Avenue storefront.
“We were speechless. We could not believe it,” she said. “It just validates our business. … It just gives you this sense of confidence, even more excitement … to make sure we’re doing it right for our family, for the neighborhood and for the farmers back home.”
To start, Magnifico Coffee will serve coffee from the San Lorenzo group, which is part of a Colombian growing collective called Cooperativa de Caficultores de Alto Occidente de Caldas that was established in 1964.
But they plan to partner with more Colombian and Latin American farms in the future. All of the coffee — no matter where it’s farmed — will be roasted fresh at Magnifico with their roaster, she said.
When the coffee shop opens, Angelica Acebedo said they plan to hang local art on the walls, highlighting Latinx artists. There are a lot of artists in the family: Angelica Acebedo is a graphic designer; her grandmother was a painter; and her husband is in branding.
The hope is patrons leave Magnifico with a deeper appreciation for the Colombian way of life, Angelica Acebedo said.
“We’re just so excited to share our culture through that cup of coffee,” she said.
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