Ivan Romero’s career centered on operations, but his passion lies in coffee.
“Being Colombian, coffee is deeply ingrained in who I am,” he says. “The national soccer team’s means ‘the coffee growers.’ I started drinking it when I was five.”
That’s why he founded Con Leche, a takeout-focused coffee shop at 181 Flat Shoals Avenue in Reynoldstown. Scheduled to open in early October, it will sell Radio Roasters drip coffee, cold brew, cappuccinos, and lattes, as well as espresso. Root Baking Co. pastries and toasts will be offered to complement the coffee.
“We’ll highlight seasonal products like local jams and honey [on the toasts],” Romero says.
Con Leche will offer a membership program to at least 100 people. For $10 a week, participants receive unlimited drip and iced coffee, plus $1 off espresso drinks.
Romero says he selected Radio Roasters for the coffee beans because the company has a partnership with a co-op in Columbia. Plus, he says, “they have a Columbia single-origin that’s not too light or too dark.”
The name Con Leche means “with milk” in Spanish. “Espresso-based drinks usually have milk,” Romero says. “Milk adds a little sweetness and softness. It’s that sentiment we want to portray in the shop.”
The space is intentionally small with just a small bar rail inside and seating for six outside.
“Growing up, I’d frequent third-wave coffee shops in New York and San Francisco. They were the perfect place to camp out,” Romero says. “Now, I need coffee on the go—on the my way to work or the gym.”
Still, the space is designed to be modern yet cozy with concrete floors and countertops contrasting against a brightly colored ceiling. The idea is to instill a sense of the culture of Carnival in Romero’s hometown.
Since the pandemic hit, Romero says many people have started making coffee at home. However, he points out that going out for coffee is “a way to break up the day.”
“We’ll need to focus on people walking around the neighborhood,” he says.