Off the Eatin’ Path: The sweetest parts of Puerto Rico come courtesy of The Sweet Coquí

Bars, Trucks & Everything In between

When you think of Puerto Rico, what usually comes to mind? Bacardi maybe. Those beaches. The flag looking a little similar to ours. Mofongo. Ricky Martin.

Yes, these are all distinctly Puerto Rican assets of immense distinction, but when someone asks you what comes to mind when you think of Puerto Rico, do you ever answer, “Frappes?” Probably not.

After hitting up this dessert truck, you just might want to change your answer. The Sweet Coquí, or El Coqui Dulce, is a cozy cart owned and operated by Taitira “Ty” Lorenzo and Jamie “Jay” Rolon, a married couple who moved to Tucson from Connecticut a few years ago along with their two boys.

The Sweet Coquí

Taitira “Ty” Lorenzo and Jamie “Jay” Rolon (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Thing is, they did not move here to start a food truck

“We were visiting friends and just fell in love with Tucson,” said Lorenzo. “We just felt more at home. Plus, the Mexican food is a lot better than what we had in Connecticut.”

In fact, during that visit, Rolon interviewed for a job at an aerospace company, literally just for kicks. He got the job. When they returned to Connecticut, Rolon gave his two weeks notice to his then-current job and quickly relocated to Tucson — right as the pandemic struck and was closing businesses.

Lorenzo remained in Connecticut, packing up the house, following him soon after (with their sons of course). She was operating a nail salon business, but when COVID hit and was in full heavy swing, she had to come up with a financial solution where she could work but not having to handle people’s toes and fingers.

The Sweet Coquí

Photo by Mark Whittaker

“We had never worked in the food industry before,” said Lorenzo. “But I really wanted to bring the flavors from my home to Tucson. Puerto Rico, I mean. Not Connecticut.”

While they made their decision and laid plans to operate a mobile taste of Puerto Rico outlet in the Sonoran Desert, there were two other trucks that were doing the same. Thing is, both of those trucks had very similar menus, relying mostly on the aforementioned mofongo.

“We knew that we didn’t want to do food,” said Rolon. “Like hot food. One thing that we always loved was our family’s desserts. There are stands all over Puerto Rico serving delicious milkshakes and cold treats so we decided, hey, Tucson is hot. Why not serve cold drinks?”

This is where the frappe squeezes in

Lorenzo and Rolon have manufactured a spin delight with their refreshing frappes that will easily make you temporarily forget that it’s in the triple digits. With flavors such as strawberry cheesecake, dulce de leche, and peanut butter, their Puerto Rican-inspired milkshakes should put The Sweet Coquí on a hunt-down, local food truck trajectory for absolutely refreshing refreshments.

Oh, and a coqui is a common frog in Puerto Rico and on The Sweet Coquí’s logo. In case you were wondering.

The Sweet Coquí

Photo by Mark Whittaker

Here is the best part; each milkshake gets decorated with sugary nibbles only found in Puerto Rico. Their family overnights them sweet supplies only available on the island when they need them — when we need them. So, that’s an added bonus from the vibrant Caribbean peninsula and home country to “Fast and Furious” actress Michelle Rodriguez.

“The candies we use on our desserts are about ninety percent Puerto Rican,” said Lorenzo. “We do offer Oreos. Because you kind of have to have Oreos if your making milkshakes.”

The Sweet Coquí

Photo by Mark Whittaker

The Sweet Coquí isn’t all about frappes, though

That’s right. They also serve delicious handmade, house-baked Puerto Rican inspired treats such as Quesitos, which are pastries filled with cream cheese, Jembleche, a coconut pudding dusted with cinnamon, Tembleque Arepitas Pastelillos, sugar-coated pastries stuffed with guava, Aripitas Dulce, sweet fried dough dazzled with fresh strawberries, then drizzled with Nutella, chocolate or dulce de leche, and a house favorite, the Family Flan.

Being a fan of flan and having eaten a fair share of flan, this is one of the best out there. Creamy, custardy yet beautifully simple. That’s what makes it so outstandingly yummy.

The Sweet Coquí

Photo by Mark Whittaker

“All of the recipes we use are handed down family recipes,” said Rolon. “Without them, we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing. We’d be working jobs that we aren’t passionate about. This truck is our passion and we love serving our community some of our favorite flavors of Puerto Rico.”

Leave the mofongo. Take the jembleche.

To keep up with The Sweet Coquí, follow the truck on Facebook and Instagram

It was a Sonoran hot dog that made Mark switch from music journalism to food writing when he moved to Tucson from San Francisco in 2006. He hasn’t been the same since.