Whenever I’m in Mexico, I love exploring different cities, towns and villages to get a fresh perspective of the country where I was born. One place that had been on my wish list for some time is Guadalajara, Mexico’s second biggest city. One Mexican friend who now lives in New York once said ‘it’s like Mexico City ten years ago before all the gringos moved in’. It definitely has a completely different vibe to the capital where you often spend hours sitting in a car trying to get from A to B.
Guadalajara is a more lowrise affair with many colourful and often crumbling villas. One morning, we headed into the center to visit the stunning Museo Cabañas and the Cathedral, and on the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Palomanegra Café, a cute little coffee shop run by two women, Michelle Gavaldon and Antea Meza Roman.
It is located on a relatively busy street with traffic directly from the center but the neighbourhood is more residential with some commerce around too. Michelle and Antea picked this area for two reasons; one, because Santa Tere is up and coming and two because rents there are still more affordable than in Colonia Americana where most other coffee shops are.
The two entrepreneurs originally hail from Ensensada in Baja California and moved to Guadalajara to set up their own business in specialty coffee. Michelle previously spent some time working for the likes of James Coffee Co. in San Diego where she gained a lot of experience and know how.
Their café is cosy and offers a welcome escape from the midday heat. It’s use of concrete and dark colours is more unusual in this neck of the woods and makes the space look ever so industrial. We sat at the back next to the huge mirror, which creates the illusion of extra space. The entire renovation work was done by Michelle and Antea, who are proud to have built their dream café from scratch.
Though I met a few other female entrepreneurs, there are still relatively few in the Mexican specialty coffee industry and the country at large. Despite much progress, femicides are at a record high and women are still too often marginalised by the macho culture that reigns in much of the country. It’s Michelle and Antea’s goal to create more representation for women in specialty coffee and to one day also set up their own roastery.
Our order that day consisted of a Flat White and a Cold Brew Tonic with cream, both of which were exquisite. Michelle and Antea have an excellent taste in music and you can even order some freshly made sandwiches that they prepare in the small kitchen at the back.
Though Palomanegra Café might not be in the middle of the hubbub, it’s a great place to visit when you’re exploring the Santa Tere neighbourhood or you’re just heading in or out of town. It’s important to try and support small independent businesses, especially those run by women. We loved our visit!