Featured Image: As seasonal feature, the iced pumpkin snap latte is perfect for early fall afternoons. Sasha Saxon | Marlin Chronicle
On a Sunday afternoon, the aroma of roasted Colombian coffee beans and the mumbles of coffee date chatter create an intoxicating atmosphere for the patrons of Colattao Coffee House. Opened only six weeks ago, business has been explosive for the modern, latin-inspired small business. Their enticing menu features classic American and South American flavors. Churro and dark chocolate habanero lattes mingle with their more traditional fall-themed pumpkin snap coffee. Additionally, Colattao offers multiple matcha drinks, for those intrigued by the earthy and floral notes of traditional Japanese flavors.
Despite the plethora of cafes in the area, Virginia Beach has never seen a Colombian and Dominican coffee house, bathed in their rich coffee culture. The name itself is derived from and a fun combination of two Spanish words, colao and tostao, meaning brew and toast, or roast. The owner, Yurika Torres, took the time for a face-to-face conversational interview, revealing personal motivations unknown to the public. Proud of her Dominican heritage, Torres has simmered on the idea of opening a coffee shop since discovering her family’s background, growing their own coffee.
Colattao has accomplished much more than just a spot to grab an espresso. Torres shared her desire to create specifically a coffee house, a home-like environment, which she accomplished by sourcing and refinishing second-hand furniture from locals.
Now, the storefront serves as a home away from home, embracing furniture and food which bridge foreign and local aspects. The one hundred year old table in the corner beckons to customers, bringing with it a story of old age and wistful friendship. Someone’s dresser was repurposed and integrated–built into the barista counter, while a donated blue leather chair holds the childhood memories of family and their pet’s favorite spot.
Handcrafted baskets and metal-work adorn the walls, made by Colombian artists and brought to Virginia Beach in Torres’ very own suitcase. Everything in the store is a labor of love, evident from just one conversation with Torres.
Honoring her husband’s background, the coffee beans are sourced directly from Colombia, from a family-owned, non-industrial farm featured on the walls of the store. While the food is not made in-house, it is provided by local businesses and still finished on-site. Delectable treats can be found in sweet and savory varieties: the cali breakfast sandwich, hazelnut babka, spinach and feta pastries, cookies, cakes and more.
While the shop isn’t open past 4 p.m., and is closed on Mondays, seating is prevalent for singles, couples and groups alike. Be sure to visit the storefront, only 12 minutes away from campus, at 1115 Independence Boulevard–open at 7 a.m., Tuesdays through Friday, and 8 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Kaitlyn Duswalt | Marlin Chronicle
By Sasha Saxon