SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A local favorite in Barrio Logan is brewing up Mexican coffee - but also new friendships.
The owner of Chikita Cafe on Newton Avenue brings in loyal and new customers everyday for her authentic Mazapan and horchata but also for advice and if she can’t help she will point you in the direction of someone who can.
“All my drinks are based on Mexican culture,” said Celina Hernandez, Chikita Cafe owner.
Everything she shakes up are her own recipes at Chikita Cafe and she makes her own cocoa powders.
“Right now the chocolate they brought me is from Oaxaca,” said Hernandez.
She also likes to support local. The coffee shop is filled with local vendors selling jewelry, sassy gifts and Mexican art.
“We love it here at Chikitas. They have everything from knick-knacks to coffee,” said Alicia Pedrosa, Barrio Logan business owner.
Hernandez, the 31-year-old mother of two is more than a barista, she’s also everyone’s friend.
“She makes the whole experience. When you don't see her, like, ‘hey where is she?’” said Pedrosa. “What I love about her personality is that she is just very opening to the community. It doesn't matter who you are, if you have something she will sell it for you.”
Hernandez is also a sounding board and knows just about everything in the neighborhood.
“If I told you all the stories you wouldn’t believe me, you wouldn’t believe me. They are crazy, and they come back because they want to talk to me,” said Hernandez.
And she knows a thing or two about coffee. She started out as a barista at age 18 and one of the customers she served helped her brew up the idea of Chikitas inside the Barrio Logan building he owned at 1875 Newton Avenue.
“I had no idea. I had no experience on the business side. I just knew how to make coffee. I was just a barista,” said Hernandez. “I had my life savings and I used it all and started with a coffee cart.”
That coffee cart is now a counter in the cafe where she has gained a huge following after customer videos went viral on TikTok.
“It was crazy I didn’t understand where all these people were coming from,” said Hernandez.
Word has traveled. Jindy Garfias visiting from the Bay Area read great reviews and wanted to stop in during her visit to San Diego.
“I wanted to check out a small local gem and I definitely found it here and I wanted to support the community and this neighborhood,” said Garfias.
Hernandez said the secret ingredient to her success is love.
“You just have to be a good person and give the best of you,” said Hernandez.
Chikita Cafe is open every day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.