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From Mexico By Way of Portland, Dahlia Coffee Blooms In Cleveland

Dahlia Coffee Cleveland cafe

At the new Dahilia Coffee bar in Cleveland. All images courtesy of Dahlia Coffee.

Combining the owner’s Mexican heritage with a Pacific Northwestern-bred passion for quality coffee, Dahlia Coffee has opened its first retail location in Cleveland, Ohio. 

In a shared space within the Pivot Center for Art, Dance and Expression in Cleveland’s robustly Latino Clark-Fulton neighborhood, the coffee company is offering dulce de leche and mazapan, mochas made from stone-ground Mexican chocolate, and locally baked bites such guava rolls and empanadas.

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Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

A earthen orange wall sheds visual warmth upon white-painted exposed bricks behind the company’s white coffee bar. The Virgin de Guadalupe appears on vases that were hand-painted by a Mexican artist and displayed upon natural wood shelving. Paintings by Mexican artists adorn the walls. The business takes its name from the national flower of Mexico. 

“I wanted the colors to scream ‘Mexico!’, but in a modern way,” Dahlia Coffee Founder and Roaster Natalia Alcazar told Daily Coffee News. “I love how the clay orange reminds me of a cantaro, a classic clay pot that Mexicans make food, hot chocolate, or even coffee in, like cafe de olla.”

As a Latina entrepreneur, Alcazar hopes the business can contribute to greater diversity and representation in the coffee space, as well as in the local Cleveland business scene. Alcazar, whose parents were born in Michoacán, Mexico, seeks to showcase Mexican culture while also bringing to bear her experiences drinking coffee in Portland, Oregon. 

Natalia Alcazar Dahlia Coffee

Dahlia Coffee Founder Natalia Alcazar.

“Growing up in Portland, I became obsessed with coffee,” Alcazar told Daily Coffee News. “I actually have always wanted to roast coffee. It was one of my dreams in my early 20s that got put on the back burner because of how expensive it was to start a business on my own.”

To launch Dahlia, Alcazar found support from multiple Clevelans nonprofits, including a $2,500 grant from community development organization Metro West, and a $3,000 grant from the Hispanic Business Center for marketing and equipment. The Latino Impact program from the Cleveland nonprofit JumpStart provided small business management training, mentorship and a $20,000 loan. 

Having observed the growing number of Latin American-style coffee businesses spreading up and down the West Coast, the former disability insurance professional determined demand might also exist in Cleveland.

Dahlia Coffee Cleveland roaster

Dahlia Coffee’s 1-kilo Mill City Roaster.

Alcazar started roasting on a 1-kilo-capacity Mill City Roasters machine last May, and has more recently been working with a 10-kilo Proaster machine at the First Crack co-roasting facility in Cleveland to meet the demands of the shop. 

“It’s only two months old, but [the cafe] is receiving a lot of attention in Cleveland because I’m the only Mexican coffee shop in town,” said Alcazar. “The location that I’m at right now is great, but I’d like to look into keeping this location and expanding into a location where I am a standalone coffee shop with my own seating.”

As a one-woman roastery, Alcazar takes advantage of green offerings available through First Crack, which in turns buys coffees from importers such as Sucafina and Cafe Imports.

“I wanted to focus on Mexico, Central and South American coffees,” Alcazar said of Dahlia’s selection of six single-origin coffees. “However, I love Ethiopian coffee, so I do carry one natural Ethiopian coffee on my menu. I have not created any blends, but I will in the future.”

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With a coffee bar up and running and a model that appears to be working, Dahlia is poised to bloom even more in and around the Forest City. 

“I would like to hire a couple people to roast, package, and ship coffee. At this time, I’m doing it all by myself and I never have a day off,” said Alcazar. “I’d like to have my own roasting facility and buy a bigger roaster… I’d like to stay in the same neighborhood, and my hope is that my larger location can supply the smaller location.”

Dahlia Coffee is located at 2937 W. 25th St. in Cleveland.