Published On: Sat, Jan 14th, 2023

Brew Tulum brings the soul of Mexican coffee to the USA

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hen most small business owners decide to open a second location, it’s not usually 2,000 miles away from their first. But Laura McNamara and Alberto Juarez, who curate small batches of specialty coffee at Brew Tulum, are not most small business owners. “We are very grassroots. We are small business owners. We are dreamers,” McNamara says.

They met in the tourist destination of the Yucatán Peninsula in Tulum, Mexico, where McNamara was working briefly. McNamara is from St. Charles, Missouri; Juarez is from Mexico.

“I was trying to stay away from Latin America because my stepdad who raised me is Mexican and I’ve always been drawn to Latin American culture,” McNamara said. “I had a hunch that once I was in, I wouldn’t make it back out.”

In December 2018, the pair opened their first concept – the first Brew Tulum – in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Laura McNamara

Two Locations: Two Countries

“When we opened the restaurant and coffee shop in Mexico, we definitely had to get this product up to the U.S. because most of our clientele in Mexico are tourists,” McNamara said. “A lot of them come from either the U.S. or Canada and others from Europe.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down the Quintana Roo location temporarily. In the interim, McNamara brought the Brew Tulum business concept to St. Louis, using the same coffee growers that had supplied the original Brew Tulum location, who exported their product to the U.S. “It was amazing,” McNamara said. “We were able to hit the ground running.”

They started selling products – like their popular café de olla – at farmers’ markets. The original recipe calls for coffee brewed with clove, cacao, and piloncillo, but Brew Tulum substitutes warm cinnamon for clove.

“Our traditional Mexican spiced coffee is a coffee beverage that actually dates back to the Mexican revolution,” McNamara said. “It went over crazy, and it was always one of my favorite drinks.”

They gained a steady following at farmers’ markets due to their take on café de olla, especially in Lake St. Louis. At the same time as they were expanding their reach in St. Louis, McNamara and Juarez also worked to re-open their Tulum location in February 2021.

The Riviera Maya Times
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