From Coffee Cart to Cafe, Barista del Barrio Goes Full Steam Ahead

The menu is an exciting mix of the classics and the inventive, equally balancing nostalgia and new twists.

Last modified on November 16th, 2018 at 9:05 am

Sergio and the family at Barista del Barrio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

When visiting Barista del Barrio it can be hard to decide what to order. The coffee shop’s menu is an exciting mix of the classics and the inventive, equally balancing nostalgia and new twists.

It is run by Sergio Torres, his sister Ariana, and their mother Flavia Briones. Consequently, everything on the menu has been chosen because it meets the Briones’ high standards.

“[Barista del Barrio] was my mom’s idea,” Sergio said. “She had everything planned, and I helped her out.”

Sergio grew up in the neighborhood and wanted to give back to the community he loved. In order to do so, he opened Barista del Barrio as a coffee cart in January 2017. From there, he served coffee and breakfast items.

“When we started, we didn’t have an espresso machine,” Sergio said. “We just did drip coffee.”

However, word quickly spread and in June 2018, Barista del Barrio expanded into the building and patio that it resides in today. The cart sits outside on display.

Drinks to Order

Two walk-up windows give customers the opportunity to order signature drinks, like the Barrio Hochesso (horchata with espresso). It’s combined with creamy, cinnamon-heavy horchata, as well as burritos and croissant sandwiches. Everything is made to order, and uses the Briones’ family recipes.

The other drinks at Barista del Barrio are equally unique and delicious. The cold brew is sweetened with La Lechera — condensed milk that is a staple in Mexican desserts. Their Mexican Mocha is reminiscent of Abuelita Chocolate — a milky cocoa that brings back childhood memories for many Tucsonans. The coffee beans are made by local company, Ombre Coffee.

“We have a homestyle feel,” Ariana said. “People say it’s just like their nana made it.”

Food Options
Vegan tamal plus cheese at Barista del Barrio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Vegan tamal plus cheese at Barista del Barrio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Every ingredient used in the kitchen is chosen with care by Briones.

Overall, one of their most popular items is the Vegan Tamale stuffed with calabasitas. The masa is light and airy, making it a perfect pair to Briones’ craveable spicy salsa, spiked with oregano.

The breakfast burritos come two to an order, full of beans, eggs, and the customer’s choice of meat. Such as, Briones’ homemade chorizo — full of a secret blend of chiles and spices, is always a good bet. “We use tortillas that taste the best with the fewest ingredients,” she said.

Chorizo Breakfast Burrito from Barista del Barrio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chorizo Breakfast Burrito from Barista del Barrio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The passion that the family brings to Barista del Barrio is obvious to see. Judging by the customers that wait at 8 a.m. on a Saturday for the shop to open, the enthusiasm is mutual.

Future Plans

In the meantime, Sergio is looking to the future. He hopes to expand and bring more people the joys of his family’s work.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve,” Sergio said.

Certainly stop by for your caffeine fix at 1002 N. Grande Ave., where Barista del Barrio is located.

It’s open from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday, and Wednesday to Friday, and then from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Keep up with Barista del Barrio on Facebook.

Samantha Colaianni has family roots in Tucson that go back before the Gadsden Purchase. When she's not cooking Mexican food, she's baking Mexican pastries.
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