By Niomarie González, Ashlene Lebrón & Ana Vázquez
Friends Café during a regular afternoon serving customers at Plaza Colon in Downtown Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. It’s first establishment opened in 2007 in Cabo Rojo. Since then, they have branched out, making other shops in the Western area.
Friday afternoon at Plaza Colón in Downtown Mayagüez. During December, there have been series of events celebrating the holidays, with performances and a lively scenery. Nevertheless, clients can still enjoy the fresh air with a cup of coffee thanks to it’s calm atmosphere.
A normal day at Friends Café. The idea first came seven years ago from a trip to Hawaii. The owner, Wilmer Ramírez, had seen a local café there and when he came back from his trip he decided to look for information to start his own business in Puerto Rico.
Hernán Rodríguez, a barista, getting ready to prepare a cup of coffee. He has been an employee since the beginning of Friend’s Café. “I’ve been there since the owner pitched us the idea of opening a coffee shop.”
Hernán Rodríguez getting ready to prepare an espresso. He explained that there are three methods for espresso extraction. These are the French press, the Chemex, and Siphon.
An espresso machine using the French Press method to make an espresso. The barista used a two spout gaggia portafilter which contains 14 to 18 grams of coffee. A one spout gaggia portafilter only contains seven to nine grams of coffee.
Hernán pouring cream into the coffee cup. The way he was making coffee was precisely in an Italian manner. The technique came from Italy therefore all methods and words are Italian, such as latte, barista, cappuccino, etc.
Here we have an elaborate design of a swan. He poured the cream and slowly created the image of a swan. Every time Hernán makes an espresso he adds an artistic image to bring happiness the customer.
Hernán, the barista, working hard in his job. He used to be a painter before Wilmer approached him with the idea of the Café. One his unforgettable experiences was serving coffee to Paul van Dyk, who is a famous DJ.
Here we have Carlos Colón during a rush hour. They are mostly visited by local business owners in the morning. In the afternoon and night, they receive students and families.
Carlos, rushing to serve the client’s order. He has been working now for five years. “This has been the best experience I’ve had in my life.”
A Mint Mocha Frapuccino taking a sun bath outdoors. The anonymous customer raved about how this drink could be the best cold beverage they have. It contains mint, chocolate and coffee topped with whip cream and chocolate syrup.
María Vargas, 23, enjoying a cup of coffee while catching up on work. Self-described coffee addict who lived close by was accustomed to going to Friend’s Café often. “I love the whole atmosphere, the workers and the student population.”
Juan Carlos, 21, and Juan Barrero, 22, having a cheerful conversation. Juan C. expressed how much he admired being in contact with other people. However, Juan B. preferred how it was a stress-free zone.
Nadynne Vargas, 15, indulges her cold coffee drink while talking with a friend. She had just gotten out of school and decided to relax. “I like how people are laid-back and carefree.”
Aryam, 15, enjoying the fresh air with her friend. She expressed how much she enjoys relaxing at the Café. “I can clear my mind about any problem I might be going through.”
Luis Méndez, 30, about to meet up with some colleagues. He spoke about how he either orders a hot chocolate or a cold green tea beverage. “I get to meet new people while relaxing and having fresh air.”
Melissa Raymond Deraiche, 33, with her son Atlas, spending the afternoon together. She was drinking her favorite beverage, a macchiato. “I love the social aspect of coffee because here you can buy a cup and they will leave it for someone who needs it.”
Roberto Castro, 19, chatting with a friend. He was indulging a macchiato. “I love the aspect of being outside getting some fresh air.”
Javielisse Tirado, 20, relaxing during the afternoon with her dog, Luke. She indulged a cappuccino, earlier. “They have the best quality coffee. You don’t see that often.”