A Family Affair: Marcela Bedoya

images by David Imber + Matthew Carvalho | story by Michelle Hopper

After a long morning getting my car serviced, I made my way over to M.A.S. Cafe in desperate need of great coffee and a warm smile. With every cup she serves, Marcela Bedoya is providing just that to South Florida. Her pop-up cafe in the MASS district of Fort Lauderdale, is welcoming, with a spacious bar and family style table, and of course, Marcela behind the bar. When I think of Marcela, I think of her kindness, her drive, and her family. M.A.S. Cafe is a family affair, Marcela runs the day to day side of the cafe while her brothers Alejandro and Santiago (the A. & S. in M.A.S.) handle the operations side of the business. Their green coffee is imported from their family’s farm in Quindio, Colombia and roasted locally in Fort Lauderdale. As we talked Marcela made me a cortado with their honey processed coffee, which she's been serving as espresso since the pop-up cafe opened in February.

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On your coffee story...

I had always wanted to start a bakery. I used to travel a lot to Europe and just to see all the “mom and pop” shops, I knew I wanted to do that. But I didn’t get into specialty coffee until my visit to Colombia...
It began over a summer; I took some time off school and I went to Colombia for 3 months. And I would just go to this coffee shop, which I ended up finding out was my dad’s cousin’s shop, and I loved it.
They were doing a coffee farm tour with some tourists and I tagged along and was like “oh well I’m not doing anything, I might as well go.” So I went on the farm tour, and it just opened my eyes to a whole different world, where I got to see the whole process of coffee from seed to cup.

So they  were looking for an outlet to import coffee...They live in a very tourist-y area, so they would mail roasted coffee to people that would order online and had traveled there in the past. But it was a very small operation. When he (my dad’s cousin) saw that I was really passionate about it, and I told him that I wanted to keep learning and had a vested interest in it, he was like “yeah, let’s try this out”.

Once I came home, I went back to school for marketing and I just started doing all my assignments on opening a coffee shop. Then, I created a business plan and I was in the process of asking a bank for a loan so I pitched it to my older brother Alejandro instead and he was like “Alright, Marcela, I’ve got you.”

 

My other brother, Santi came on board last year at SCA 2015. After seeing the potential of the specialty coffee industry at Expo in Atlanta, how it awesome it was, and that it could be profitable - he’s very finance oriented- he knew I needed help with the numbers because that’s not my strong point.
So in July 2016, the first time my family ever exported from Colombia to the U.S., was through us (M.A.S. Cafe), which was really cool.

 

On the first import...

It included five coffees, a washed, natural, and honey as well as an organic, and a washed from a different region of the country.

 

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On the name M.A.S. Cafe...

My parents had a company a few years ago called M.A.S. consultants. They used it because that was our initials, the three kids. So I was like “you know what, M.A.S Cafe, it’s awesome, it’s our initials, this is the three of us” and we’re all really close. It means more in Spanish, More Coffee.

 

On your daily coffee routine...

I'll brew at the shop. I stopped brewing at home, I used to always brew at home - but now I just come here, dial in the espresso and usually make myself a cortado.

 

On what excites you most about coffee...

The most exciting thing is to be a part of the growth. I’m excited about being able to tell the story of how there weren’t many coffee shops and how we were here for the growth… It’s like we’re all doing it together.

 

On how you stay motivated...

My brothers ask me that; ”Are you burnt out?”, “Are you tired?”, and I don’t even know what it is, I don’t know; I just like it, I just like being here, I like meeting people, I like knowing that in a couple years it will pay off. Because I know where I want to be, so I keep a clear vision and focus on that. But there are always days where I’ll be like “oh my gosh, this sucks”


"I don’t even know what it is, I don’t know;
I just like it, I just like being here, I like meeting people,
I like knowing that in a couple years it will pay off."


Best Bar in South Florida...

I’m a big beer person, Laser Wolf is walking distance from MAS, I ride my bike there.

 

Favorite coffee memory...

We went to a farm that’s popular Granja La Esperanza. I went with my family, the producers in Colombia and this farm is really well known. They got to plant their own trees, so we got to witness the ceremony and they were obviously super emotional, so it made me super emotional. This was two years ago so the trees should give fruit within the next year.

 

Apart from your own shop, most memorable drink...

Verano, Iced Americano with fresh squeezed Orange Juice at Cafe Jesus Martin