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    ‘Flor del Café’: Perseverance Through Hardships

    It was 1736 when the coffee plant embarked on the shore of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican government benefited from the coffee bean plantation. It started in the municipality of Coamo, taking a massive wave of popularity for more than 100 years. In fact, it became the most-sold coffee in Europe at the time. Puerto Rican coffee became one of the major exports for the island. Today sadly, most of our imported items come from other countries. But the island still produces coffee brands such as “Madre Tierra”, “Café Peregrino”, “Gran Batey”, among many others. Local coffee shops on the island continue to use locally. But one brand stands out for its unique use of this tiny bean. We will highlight Flor del Café.

    Small businesses in Puerto Rico tend always to get the short end of the stick when it comes to federal assistance during difficult times. Many begin this journey with high hopes of having more economic stability but are greeted with uncertainty, despair, and loss. According to the Census, there are approximately 40,000 local businesses making it 99.7% of establishments on the island. But only 7% get to receive approvals for government assistance.

    What is Flor del Café?

    “The coffee plant births a flower first, even before the first bean; therefore, our name means before the blessing arrives,” said Johanys Jimenez (owner of Flor del Café).

    via Facebook

    An artisanal coffee business has a physical locality for nine months in Camuy (a municipality in Puerto Rico). It’s a quaint pleasant place made by Alexander (Alex) Medina and his wife Johanys Jimenez. The couple created a place where customers can pick and choose what they want on their plates.

    “The business came to the reality, thanks to the inspiration of and this is gonna sound weird but it was Starbucks,” they told HypeFresh.

    What makes Flor del Café unique from other places is its menu, besides having a variety of coffee and oatmeal. The menu came to life thanks to those customers who continuously support the business.

    Besides having a wide range of items on its menu, Flor del Café has a unique theme – art from the Renaissance era. Even its logo is an adaptation from a painting called The Birth of Venus made by Sandro Botticelli.

    “Recently I started reading about Art History, then I found a plastic artist from Florence, Sandro Botticelli. I (Alexander) first started as an illustrator, then I decide to make a rebrand of the original painting.”

    For the owner ‘Flor de Café’ translated as coffee, the flower has some type of a female image. Using elements of the painting but in a minimalistic way. They presented that all, life comes from women by using the imagery of coffee in their logo.

    Expansions But At A Cost

    Like any other business owner, Alexander and Johanys have the dream of a future expansion with Flor de Café. Although a bit different, they love to franchise the business with their own employees.

    Besides wanting to grow even more both Alexander and Johanys maintain a sense of community. If a customer comes short of paying or has needs, they are always happy to help.

    Furthermore, inflation increased prices at an all-time high, affecting businesses like Alexander and Johanys’.

    “Right now we are making a recosting, we depend a lot, for example, eggs. A product that you buy would normally cost $65 dollars, now the price rose up to $156 dollars”, Alexander told HypeFresh.

    Taxes make it even more difficult to provide a better experience to the customer. Puerto Rico has the highest tax rate out of any other state of the U.S with an 11.5%, followed by states such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and more.  Not only that the island has a minimum wage of $8.50 per hour. These are some of the factors small business owners face while trying to stay afloat while sacrificing their personal life for dreams of a better future.

    Natural Disasters But Having Hope

    Other hardships in the business industry are natural disasters. A couple of weeks ago Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Fiona. Although damages were minor on the north side of the island, the fragile state has been recovering since Hurricane Maria hit back in 2017.  Flor del Café was closed for more than 13 days due to the lack of power. Without power, it became difficult to pay their employees.

    Although there have been many times of questioning the uncertainty of their businesses, Alexander, and Johanys stand strong. Flor del Café is a place where you can see a dream being fulfilled. This is where you can see the true heart of Puerto Rico, with those that truly care for their community and those who try their best to make a better future in their hometown.

    If you want to see more about Flor del Café make sure to follow their social media. And be sure if you’re ever visiting Puerto Rico go take a trip and see Alexander and Johanys.

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