Orobi Café owners Diego Piedrahita and his niece Luisa Church pose for a photo inside their new business.
Orobí Café to open in Troutman on Saturday
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Orobí Café, which takes its name from an ancient Quimbaya chieftain from the rich coffee-growing region of western Colombia, will open its doors in Troutman on Saturday, October 28, after months of preparation.
Diego Piedrahita and his niece, Luisa Church, have been introducing the café’s delicious brew at the Troutman Farmers Market and other special events in the area.
Located at 628 S. Main Street, the café will open its doors at 8 a.m. Saturday morning to offer a wide variety of unique coffee and juices, pastries and a variety of Colombian foods to the community. The café’s normal hours will be Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We are trying to create a homey feel, something comfortable, like something that you would see in our country if we came to visit and went to a coffee shop in Colombia. You will see a lot of decorations that are native to us,” said Church.
Over the past few months, Piedrahita crafted the beautiful wood tables and counter area in the café to create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere, while Church handled the administrative aspects of getting the café open.
“My uncle has had the idea of opening a coffee shop for 20-plus years,” said Church, “along with a roaster. I joined him in May after leaving my job as manager at a children’s dental office. We have been talking about it a long time, and I just decided to jump in.”
“Troutman is a very good place to open because it’s so close to I-77,” said Piedrahita, “and also to the Lake Norman.”
Natives of Colombia, Piedrahita and Church want to bring the wonderful tastes of their native South American country to the local community. The shade-grown coffee that they serve is ecologically sound because it is grown under existing trees without clear-cutting the land.
This growing technique helps protect the area’s ecology and provides birds and other animals with a more favorable habitat while not disturbing nature’s delicate balance and preventing erosion.
“The shade-grown coffee tends to holds more of the flavor and essence. Not a lot of coffees have this high quality,” said Church. “We work to get a really good coffee.”
“The Colombian coffee is special because it is smooth but deep and full-bodied,” said Piedrahita.
“My uncle really educated me how to make coffee. It is an art,” said Church.
Café Orobí’s coffee is served hot or cold, with options such as espresso, onix, tinto, cappuccino, lattes, and macchiato in several sizes. Flavors such as cinnamon, mocha, hazelnut and caramel create custom tastes. For a rich treat, Café Orobí also offers coffee floats.
“Our food menu is based not so much on a full meal but on street food,” said Church. “We want to introduce to people here what Colombian food tastes like. A lot of it goes along with coffee, including pastries.”
“For non-coffee lovers, we have a raw juice menu,” added Church.
Specialty blends include the Elixir of Life (apple, pineapple, blueberry and kale), the Energizer (carrot, beet, grapefruit, and apple), Green Power (celery, spinach, cucumber, and kale), and Mangomania (mango, lime, orange and strawberry).
Customers can also create their own preferred blends and add in wheatgrass, tumeric or ginger, if desired.
Tropical juices such as passion fruit, guava, mango, banana, papaya and soursop are also offered.
The café will also offer a special Colombian hot chocolate, added Piedrahita. “It is a homemade hot chocolate made from 100 percent cocao, a rich dark chocolate, with organic sugar.”
The food offerings include Arepa, which is a corn meal-based bread, much like a pita, stuffed with chicken, beef, pork or egg. Patacon is a green plantain, flattened, with chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp and cheese on top. “It’s really crunchy when you bite into it,” said Church.
Salads include bacon avocado, apple walnut, blueberry sunflower, and strawberry almond. Sandwich choices are the Perro Colombiano (hot dog), house hamburgers and Cubans.
Church’s family moved to Statesville when an aunt and uncle moved there and loved it, with much of her large family following over the years. After 18 years in New York, Piedrahita moved to Statesville three years ago because his wife Eva, “my boss,” wanted to, Piedrahita joked.
“I like it because it is calm, and New York is so expensive, you know,” said Piedrahita. “I love it.”
The Piedrahitas were born and raised in the heart of the Colombian coffee-growers axis. Both worked as coffee roasters when young and now own a large specialty coffee plantation in Pereira, Colombia. Diego has been roasting and selling coffee beans locally for several years.
Diego has a background in education in his native Colombia as well as extensive industry experience that will also serve him in this venture. He has conducted serious research on the history and culture surrounding Colombian coffee culture and the modern coffee industry
Eva has managed several coffee shops in New York. They plan to bring Orobi Cafe from a start-up business to a significant player in the high-end coffee market in the region.
Church and Piedrahita have plans to give back to the community and environment here and in Colombia. Instead of a tip jar, Church wants to contribute money collected to local charities and then create a picture board that shows customers where the money was donated.
With each cup of Perla del Otún coffee customers drink, they will also help to protect several species of birds in the region, including the bluebirds, brown-headed nuthatches, chimney swifts, mourning doves, and many others, through Orobí Café’s birdhouse installation project, “Giving Back to Birds.”
With the help of the N.C. Parks Department and state environmental authorities, the Piedrahitas identified several areas which have endangered bird populations from deforestation that destroys their natural habitat.
Orobí Café will partner with church groups to form Sentinels of the Environment, who will perform birdhouse installation. Birdhouses will be built by volunteers with materials purchased using the proceeds from the sales of Orobí Café’s bird-cordial coffee, Perla del Otún.
Community birdhouse donations can also be dropped off at Orobí Café.
Septic tank construction on coffee farms is a requirement in the coffee growing regions of Colombia. Plans are underway for Orobí Café to deliver the necessary materials for constructing three septic tanks on farms in the Risaralda state, with the coffee growers providing the labor.
This joint effort with the regional government’s system of community self-management ensures that the water used for washing the coffee beans does not contaminate the water sources in the region.
Orobí Café will continue to help owners install septic systems on their farms in Colombia if they lack the economic resources.
Piedrahita also has a 2,000-square-foot sustainable and organic greenhouse with 500 seven-foot coffee trees behind his home in Statesville. He demonstrates the process of growing and processing Caturra beans there but eventually plans to move the small farm and greenhouse behind the Troutman Orobí Café location.
For the prevention of pests, common in coffee farming, the Piedrahitas use a fungicide derived from chili peppers, which also are grown at the Orobí Café Farm.
They will use the beans they grow in the greenhouse in the café, though it mostly serves an educational purpose. Though a few have come to visit, eventually Piedrahita will welcome more visitors and students to visit once the greenhouse moves to Troutman.
In addition to the shop and deck areas outside the café, Piedrahita is currently setting up his roaster operation downstairs, visible behind a glass wall, and a museum to educate folks about the process of getting coffee to their tables each day.
When complete, customers will be able to see each step of the growing process, including sowing, fertilizing, transplanting, flowering, harvesting, skin removal, washing, drying, roasting, grinding, and brewing of the coffee beans at the greenhouse and museum.
“In the future, the people who come to visit will be able to try handling and washing the beans to get them ready to roast,” said Piedrahita.
The museum and roasting area will also have cozy seating spaces for customers to bring their coffee down from the café to enjoy.
Next spring, he will open additional outdoor seating on the large patio located down the steps on the east side of the building, which adjoins the museum area.
Piedrahita and Church also have plans to open additional locations in Statesville and Mooresville after establishing the Troutman location.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
628 S. Main St, Troutman, NC 28166
Coffee Shop: (704) 508-1105
Cell: (914) 400-9428
Office: (704) 775-4811