Three businesses have come together under one roof in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston to form the Monumental Market.
Customers can browse through shelves of vinyl LPs care of Light of Day Records and grab a freshly baked snack still warm from the onsite ovens of Lavender Bee Baking Co., all while sipping a drink or grabbing a bag of coffee grown on small Colombian farms and prepared by El Colombiano Coffee.
Javier Amador-Peña founded El Colombiano in nearby Brookline in 2016, earning a customer base through seasonal farmer’s market sales that by the end of 2018 felt like a sturdy platform upon which to build a brick-and-mortar location.
“Rents in the area are very high and I needed someone to go in the business with, so I could share rent, utilities, overhead,” Amador-Peña told Daily Coffee News.
Considering the shared patronage between Lavender Bee Baking and El Colombiano at the farmer’s market, he reached out to bakery owner Kelsey Munger to solidify a partnership. With Light of Day Records also on board, doors to the intimate 600-square-foot bakery/cafe/record store opened Feb. 11, only to close about a month later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re considered essential business, but at that time of confusion and uncertainty, and for what we believed was for the safety of our customers, employees and community as a whole, we closed temporarily,” said Amador-Peña. “Once things were a bit better, we started doing online orders [and] curbside pickups, once a week, then twice a week, then we opened up a few days with limited days, hours [and] menu, and now we are open five days a week.”
Amador-Peña grew up on the Atlantic coast of Colombia where he said the weather is summer-like all year round and small, sugar-laden cups of café tinto are downed around the clock.
In the late 1990s he moved to the United States to attend graduate school in Boston and find work as a graphic designer, which he continues to do both for his own business, the Monumental Market and sometimes other clients.
“Design certainly remains a passion of mine, and offers me a way to relax,” said Amador-Peña, who partners with Aero Coffee Roasters to transform the green coffees he sources carefully from his home country. “I have visited with some of the small coffee growers during some of my trips to Colombia. I’ve heard their stories of both successes and losses, and I try the best I can to source their beans. Some of them are too small to produce enough beans for export, so a large number of them belong to cooperatives that I buy from.”
As he continues down the path of proprietorship of a coffee company, Amador-Peña has relied on a strong business relationship with Peter Femino of Aero Coffee.
“He taught me about roasting and took me through his unique process, and introduced me to cupping, tasting, and selecting coffee,” said Amador-Peña. “More than a toll-roasting service, it has evolved as a mentorship and friendship. I can consult with him on everything from labelling advice, to packaging, to insight on managing a staff.”
Thanks to the warm reception the Market has gotten so far, El Colombiano Coffee looks forward to further extending its hours, should conditions with the coronavirus improve.