Shop owners hope to be part of downtown revitalization

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The Mexican Heritage Center, located at 111 S. Sutter Street in Stockton, is more than just an art gallery; it’s also a building where new cafe Terra’s Coffee has set up shop.

Terra Coffee is owned by Laura Garcia and her husband. About a year ago, the couple were roasters and started making blends. One of their specials is Cafe de Oya, their take on a traditional Mexican beverage. 

Garcia and her husband took some servings of the beverage to the Mexican Heritage Center to give out some free samples and get others opinions on the drink. 

Customers reacted positively. 

“They liked it and um, we kind of broke the rules with it,” said Garcia. “Because we were infusing things with our coffee instead of keeping it pure, and we’re doing special roasts. I mean, we’re using high quality beans from around the world.”

The couple wanted to incorporate the Mexican Heritage Center with their menu. 

Some of the specialty drinks made at the Mexican Heritage Center are the Viva Mocha, a take of Mexican hot chocolate with espresso, and the Blank Canvas Mocha, made with white mocha, toasted marshmallow and vanilla syrup. 

While serving cafe de oya at the Heritage Center, Garcia and her husband spotted an espresso machine just sitting against the wall. They were soon told that the Heritage Center had been trying to open a coffee shop for a few years. 

This lead to Garcia and her husband, while roasting from home, to looking for a place to set up shop, ideally in the downtown area. 

And not too long after looking, someone gave word to the Heritage Center about Garcia and her husband wanting to open up a coffee shop. The rest worked itself out. 

“We love art, we wanted to represent the community, we wanted to bring out our specially roasted coffee here downtown, and what’s even better is, we’re inside the art gallery.” Garcia said.

Now Terra Coffee has been open for over a month and is already thriving, giving a place for people and artists to enjoy a beverage and or pastry. 

“We really want to make it a community space for all different types of art,” Garcia said. “Whether it’s artists wanting to sketch, musicians coming in and jamming out, or just people coming together to talk about art and to check out the gallery. So that’s one of our biggest goals, to create a very welcoming space for everybody.”

Downtown Stockton is home to a number of local mom and pop shops, some have been around and some, like Terra Coffee, are just taking off.  

Gonzalez thinks this is part of the revitalization process of downtown Stockton.

“The revitalization of downtown Stockton, and just small mom and pop shops overall, have been growing,” Gonzalez said. “It seems like a new younger generation has found an interest and a need to have local shops and supporting small business owners, and I think it’s great.

I think the city of Stockton is slowly becoming more aware of it and supporting these local businesses, which is great for the Stockton community and the economy because, when your supporting a mom and pop shop, you’re supporting somebody that’s active in your community and trying to make it a more positive, and better place.”

Terra Coffee and The Mexican Heritage Center are open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m