Honduras-based specialty coffee company Cafetano opened its first retail location in the United States last weekend, completing a farm-to-cup connection in Pittsburgh.
Cafetano Owner Mirko Cuculiza brought the brand to the Steel City in partnership with Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur Carl Allison. The two are now co-owners of Cafetano PGH, an entity technically distinct from the Honduras-based Cafetano but operating under the same brand and model.
A major component of that model is the use of high-quality arabica coffees grown on Cuculiza’s family’s farm in Honduras.
In Pittsburgh’s Strip District, the vertically integrated brand’s roasting of those coffees is done on a 15-kilo-capacity Joper dressed in the city’s proud black and yellow colors. Roasted beans are sold direct to consumers online, to a growing number of wholesale customers, or they make their way into drinks at two separate coffee bars at the new shop — one for takeout window service and one for customers inside.
The menu at the 3,200-square-foot location runs the gamut of espresso-based drinks while also offering cold brew, frappes, batch drip brews and a variety of manual brew options, including AeroPress, French press, siphon, Chemex, and Kalita and V60 pourovers.
Mirko Cuculiza spent his childhood on Finca Miravalle, a coffee farm located in the Francisco Morazán department in Honduras’s central highlands, that has been owned and managed by his father, Miroslav Cuculiza, since 1984.
“We sell coffee produced from our farms, but as you may know, coffee farming is a very tight-knit community, so we do take in coffee from our neighbors,” Mirko Cuculiza told DCN. “Every coffee variety is cupped in Cafetano [Las Minitas location] and held to a high quality standard before being purchased and put into the lineup.”
The Pittsburgh location is the brand’s fifth retail opening overall since cutting the ribbon on its first cafe in the town called 21 de Octubre on the northern outskirts of the capital city of Tegucigalpa in 2015. By 2019, Cafetano had four bars serving customers in different cities around Honduras, though two closed permanently over the course of the pandemic.
“A grueling two-and-a-half-year long program that only graduates 50 people; it was a very demanding school,” said Cuculiza. “But [it] churns out, as the name of the program reflects, five-star cuppers.”
In Pittsburgh, Mirko Cuculiza’s wife Rosamaria Cuculiza designed the interior of the shop to create fun, comfortable and informative experiences. Chandeliers, natural wood surfaces and cozy furniture encourage guests to relax and take in vivid artwork, including a wall-size mural of Francisco Morazán that incorporates a Scarlet Macaw and the Yucatan white-tailed deer, the national bird and national mammal of Honduras, respectively.
“The pandemic is ending, but we’re just getting to start,” Cuculiza told DCN. “In Honduras, we are expanding our operations, and in Pittsburgh, we have coffee for yinz.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.