Latinx Heritage Month: Cafetal Quilombo Café

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and projects connected to Seattle’s Latinx community.

Owners Heri Magdalena and Maria De Luna serve up coffee and tamales with no shortage of comfort at their Beacon Hill restaurant, Cafetal Quilombo Café. After many years of saving, the two opened Cafetal Quilombo in 2015 and have been growing their business ever since – delicious bite after delicious bite. As former owners of a Tortilleria in Aguascalientes, Mexico, it was a natural fit to make rich masa tamales for Seattleites who love Mexican food and serve them with coffee. Read on for a little more about Heri’s experience owning a business.

Owning your own business was your dream. Tell us more about that.

I just wanted to have my own business. In Mexico, my wife and I had a Tortilleria and loved it. When we moved to the states we saved for many years to have enough to open a business. We started with coffee and tamales and we have slowly built more.  

What is the hardest part of owning a business?

Sometimes it seems like there are so many things coming at me, especially with the pandemic driving prices up. We buy first quality meat, for instance, and that is not going to change. But, the cost of meat has gone up significantly. And we make our tamales with olive oil instead of animal fat and that is quite a bit more expensive, too. It has been difficult to secure all the things we need to run the business.

What Cafetal Quilombo menu item do you love to eat?

The tamales are very good. Customers compare them to their grandma’s in Mexico and then I know that we are making good, artisanal tamales. They are all made from scratch—we make the masa ourselves with olive oil.

What is the best part of owning your business?

At first, I want to say the freedom, but owning a business is a lot of work. But there is still something about having your own thing that feels like freedom.