As you walk into the small coffee shop, the ambience of pastel yellow, blue and pink captivate you. Murals of rolling hills with lush green grass and a stairway that leads into a bookshelf bring the atmosphere of a Spanish Hacienda to your footsteps. As you continue to the counter Millie, the owner, says hello with a huge grin.
Located in the Vons Center on Foothill Boulevard, Rico Coffee opened eight months ago with the mission to provide a community-oriented coffee shop with the best coffee in town.
With the goal of serving the community, Rico Coffee has always tried to incorporate the ideas of customers and guests. Live music and open mic nights were among the first additions.
The most recent addition to the coffee house is Socrates Café, an innovative concept of asking and answering questions in a structured group conversation. Its purpose is to enlighten and amuse the participants on a certain topic. Questions as to why the world is the way it is, what people believe in and why they hold those beliefs will serve as the beginning to intelligent and captivating conversations.
“People still want to talk,” said Vice President Ricardo Espinosa.
The family-owned Rico Coffee has a Spanish twist to its name to express the importance of rich coffee.
“We got what we feel is the best coffee in La Verne,” Espinosa said.
From unique blends like ice mochas, vanilla lattés, strawberry vanilla tea and monkey bait to regular coffee, Rico Coffee tries to tailor their drinks to the customers’ preferences.
“We wanted to be better than Starbucks,” Espinosa said.
On Thursday nights the coffee house fills up as musicians, poets and guests gather for open mic night. The bands Wilder Folk and The Family Jug and King Nosmo have become regulars at the mic singing their favorite tunes ranging from country to rock ’n’ roll and covering everything in between.
“We have no shortage of musicians,” Espinosa said. “They love to perform here.”
The live music, aromatic coffee and the company of friends bring spectators to Rico Coffee as well.
“It’s very entertaining to see people stand up and sing just out of the blue,” said Joan Lamontagne, a Pomona resident and Rico Coffee regular.
Students visit the shop to make friends, chat, drink coffee and to surf the Internet.
“I get the chance to unwind and relax with friends in a cozy environment,” said Tammy Hyde, University of La Verne senior psychology major.
The intriguing modern cosmopolitan Mexican design of the coffee shop was inspired at a pottery shop during the Espinosa’s trip to Sedona. A book in the pottery shop with various styles of the region’s architecture and color schemes drove Millie Espinosa to the current design of the shop, which recently won the city’s interior design award.
The live and inviting environment of the coffee shop slightly imitates Cheers but without the alcohol.
“We are trying to offer Rico to the community and do what they wish,” Ricardo Espinosa said.
Rico Coffee will be hosting the first Socrates Café at 1 p.m. on April 24. All are welcomed to the event. For more information e visit www.ricocoffee.com.
Yelena Ovcharenko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.