Alejandro García-Palacios talks about coffee like it is art.
“The beauty about coffee is that there are no written rules,” said the owner of the brand new Café La Fortuna at 46 Village Pl. in Hinsdale. “Everybody has their own tastes; everybody has their own techniques of growing, their own techniques of processing … their own roasting techniques, their own blends.”
And while most of us think little beyond the caffeine jolt of our morning Joe, it’s clear talking to García-Palacios that he hopes to spread his knowledge and appreciation for the coffee bean to all of his new downtown Hinsdale customers.
A third-generation coffee grower, exporter and roaster, García-Palacios moved to Burr Ridge in 2006 with his wife Angela and the couple’s four kids from Chiapas, Mexico, where García-Palacios owns the Finca La Fortuna coffee plantation that was started by his grandfather in 1908.
The Café La Fortuna brand is served in luxury hotels and restaurants of Mexico City, and has been exported to the U.S. and Europe since the 1940s. There are two Café La Fortuna coffee shops in Mexico, but Hinsdale’s is the first U.S. shop.
“Because of the unique quality of [Hinsdale] and all it’s people, and the uniqueness of our product, we thought it was a good combination,” García-Palacios said.
The space the café occupies on the intimate Village Place was a good fit for García-Palacios’ business.
“We liked this space,” he said, calling it cozy. “It has a nice feeling to it.”
All of the coffee served at Café La Fortuna is 100 percent Mexican and all except its decaf is made from beans grown on García-Palacios’ plantation, where up to 1,500 workers hand-pick coffee beans during peak harvest months and coffee plants grow within a forest containing 55 different species of protective and nutrient-rich trees and many species of birds and other animals.
“Our interest is not only coffee, our interest is the whole environment,” García-Palacios said of the Café La Fortuna brand, which has the slogan, “We serve, we reserve, and we preserve.”
García-Palacios said 100 percent Mexican coffee is a rarity in the U.S. because, though Mexico is the sixth-largest coffee producing country in the world, it hasn’t established itself as a well-known coffee country like Colombia or Guatemala. Often, Mexican beans are included as part of the blended coffees sold in grocery stores, García-Palacios said.
Educating customers on the coffee-making process is a goal of García-Palacios. On the café's counter is a small coffee plant and two jars of coffee beans in different development stages—the parchment stage and the green coffee stage, for the record—with written explanations attached.
Just feet away from the cash register is the roaster García-Palacios uses every day to turn the pre-roasted green coffee beans, delivered straight from Finca La Fortuna, into the brown and black beans that are ground and used in Café La Fortuna’s coffee, espresso, and cappuccino machines.
“I think that the Hinsdale community has enough culture and education to embrace what we have to offer,” García-Palacios said. “I’m trying to bring coffee culture closer to the consumer.”
In his first week or so of business, he said, reception has been good.
“We’ve been very fortunate and blessed by being very welcomed,” García-Palacios said.
Café La Fortuna offers an array of coffee drinks, as well as tea, cookies, and pastries. It is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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