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“Cold Brew Lou” — How two brothers found success through coffee during the pandemic

A light up sign displays "but first coffee" on Louis Espinoza and his brother Josué Ticas' table at the Riverside Arts Walk Oct. 17.

Read Time:2 Minute, 34 Second
By Diego Lomeli

When the idea of starting a business turns into an obtainable reality, it’s followed through with a well thought-out plan 

However, that wasn’t the case with Louis Espinoza and his brother Josué Ticas. The story of “Cold Brew Lou” began during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While discussing their future in February, Ticas asked Espinoza about opening up a coffee shop together, saying, “That’s what you’ve (Espinoza) always wanted to do.”

Espinoza gladly agreed to the business idea.

Now, the Salvadorian brothers attend the Riverside Arts Walk to share their brew with the community.

“I love cold brew, and I would love to be able to share that,” Espinoza said. “We didn’t really have a plan at first; we just started off with a basic cold brew and, slowly but surely, we started coming up with new recipes and stuff like that, and we started sharing our love and craft with the community.” 

Inside the Life Arts Center, their table sat cloaked in a black cloth topped with mason jars, autumn themed ornaments, aluminum coffee shakers and a dimly lit sign reminiscent of old theater marquees reading “But First Coffee.”

“They actually used to call me “Cold Brew Lou” back when I used to work at a coffee shop. I loved cold brew,” Espinoza said.

Several passersby stopped to glance at the prices written out on a chalkboard, and both brothers greeted them almost simultaneously with a warm, “Hi, let us know if you need help.”

Ticas would then explain the plethora of flavors they had available for passing customers to try.

The brothers didn’t begin their venture at the art walk, however.

“Obviously we had to start somewhere, so by our local farmer’s market in the palms area, they actually had an opening specifically for a coffee business—my brother and I started talking,” Espinoza said. “Short-term, we want to open up a mobile coffee trailer and be able to go from area to area, announce where we’re going to be at,have people turn out and be able to enjoy it even though we’re not at a brick and mortar yet. Eventually, when we do expand to a shop, I want to be able to provide that same concept that we have here.” 

He reached for a bottle of Bulleit Whiskey, which now holds syrup meant for coffee rather than bourbon meant for old fashioned cocktails.

“We repurpose bottles and have that bar-like aesthetic,” Espinoza said. “I want to continue that and be able to present that energy and vibe that we have going on.  People can come in with their friends, sit down, enjoy a coffee but also take in the atmosphere and taste our creations. A lot of what we love to do is come up with unique coffee ideas — like we do one that combines hibiscus and roses for example, or lavender and butterfly pea flower. It’s just innovating and coming up with new stuff constantly.”

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