Despite the literal and figurative bumps in the road it has faced since its inception, a local mobile coffee business appears to have found its footing and a loyal, growing customer base.
Co-owned by Edgar and Diana Mayorga, Café Con Leche opened for business in February. Serving a variety of espressos, specialty coffees, teas and desserts, the coffee cart is located at the Bertuccio Farms parking lot, 2410 Airline Highway in Hollister, and is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On a mid-June morning, the husband-and-wife team shared with BenitoLink the challenges, as well as the triumphs, of its two-year business journey: an odyssey that began in the Bay Area and eventually wound its way through San Benito County.
A self-described “coffee nerd,” Diana, 27, spent her teenage years working at various Redwood City coffee shops, learning about the industry and customers’ palettes. After a stint at the French pastry cafe, Mademoiselle Colette, she envisioned a coffee shop centered around her Mexican roots.
With her business plan in hand, Diana began experimenting with different coffee blends and syrups, often asking neighbors to try her product and provide feedback.
Her nascent venture was nearly upended when Edgar, 29, lost his job as a sheet metal worker during the pandemic.
With her entrepreneurial flair for dealing with setbacks, Diana decided to sell her coffee out of the couple’s apartment. Her one-time taste testers were now her targeted customers.
“All the Starbucks and local coffee shops were closed,” she said, “And our neighbors were supportive and bought my coffee.”
As Edgar saw the potential for his wife’s business, he decided to join her full-time.
“He made my dream a reality,” said Diana.
Too strapped financially to open a brick-and-mortar business, the Mayorgas settled on a coffee cart. But that proved challenging as well.
The new enclosed trailer they purchased needed an unexpected overhaul, plus the coffee machine could not meet the expected demand. In addition, several Bay Area coffee roasters refused to lend their name and product to the young couple.
“We faced a lot of bumps in the road,” said Diana. “And heard a lot of noes,” added Edgar.
Drawing upon the well of their Christian faith and undeterred by the obstacles that confronted them, the pair continued renovating the future black and white coffee cart.
The words “Café Con Leche,” were then emblazoned on its side, a reference to the simple and inviting coffee served in the haciendas of rural Mexico.
Before moving to Hollister in June 2020, the couple received word that Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company was willing to attach itself to Café Con Leche’s coffee products.
It appeared that things were finally looking up for the Mayorgas.
But once arriving in San Benito County, they had difficulty securing a site for their operation.
Enticed by the amount of traffic along Highway 25, the Café Con Leche mobile coffee bar initially parked near Bray’s Apiaries, a roadway fixture.
Word quickly spread on social media that the county’s newest coffee business offered a delicious product with a welcoming and friendly ambiance.
Among those who became an early fan is Patty Yerena of Hollister.
Waiting for her iced-mocha, Yerena, a daily patron, told BenitoLink she discovered Café Con Leche on Instagram. She visited their roadside location and was immediately hooked.
“I’m pretty picky with my coffee. And they [Diana and Edgar] have memorized my drink. It’s great coffee and great customer service,” Yerena said.
Despite the exposure they received off the highway, the Mayorgas decided to take a spot in Hollister across from Ladd Lane Elementary School.
Though the move was short-lived, Café Con Leche formed a friendship and eventually business relationship with Roxy Muñoz, a Hollister School District employee and owner of Sugar Wasted Co.
After sampling Muñoz’s speciality of chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels, Diana asked the long-term classified substitute if she could make desserts exclusively for Café Con Leche.
Muñoz is thrilled that her churro cheesecake and banana nut donuts are part of the coffee cart’s menu, and she’s happy to count the Mayorgas as business partners.
“They are easy to work with, and both are really sweet,” Muñoz said in a telephone interview with BenitoLink.
As a customer waited for additional roasted marshmallows that garnished his S’mores Latte, first-time customer Kristina Gamboa pulled into the ongoing development of the Hollister Farms Shopping Center on East Park Street.
Craving something “yummy” and following Edgar’s recommendation, Gamboa ordered a large Birthday Latte.
After taking a sip, Gamboa smiled and told BenitoLink, “It’s really good. It’s definitely sweet like a [birthday] cupcake, and the foam is perfect.”
Asked if she would return, the Hollister resident said, “I’ll be back for sure.”
However, less than 24 hours later, Café Con Leche had to relocate.
Adept at navigating through adverse business waters, Diana reached out to former Hollister city councilman Victor Gomez on Instagram.
Gomez and former San Benito County supervisor Jim Gillio run Hollister Coffee and Cars, a weekly, non-sanctioned event at the Target parking lot where participants can talk and visit over coffee, while admiring classic and contemporary cars of all makes and models.
While car aficionados ordered their flavored iced teas, Gomez explained to BenitoLink that he was glad to support the Mayorgas and hoped to see them at future events.
In the meantime, Gomez and others can find Café Con Leche at the Bertuccio Farms lot on Airline Highway.
“Everyone from the office staff to the store associates were excited to welcome Café Con Leche. Word has gotten around the area that they’re fantastic,” Bertuccio Market Manager Grant Hughes told BenitoLink.
“When one door closes another opens,” said Diana about needing to find their fifth location in four months. She and Edgar plan to remain there for a while, at least until they open a coffee shop somewhere in town.
Whether from a mobile cart or a Hollister downtown building, the Mayorgas say that Café Con Leche will always take pride in providing customers with a delicious, well-made cup of coffee that is served with a smile.
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