Tinto is the Spanish word for a popular Colombian coffee which can be ordered in a variety of espresso drinks, some sweetened with panela, at Bethel’s new Café Duo.

Victor Galicia and Paula Valderrama opened the business in the brand-new plaza at 155 Greenwood Ave on Black Friday and it’s been humming along since.

With the municipal center, library, and post office close by, the café is ideally located for municipal and other town workers to stop in before work or during the day.

The cozy shop is infused with the Latin coffee culture Galicia and Valderrama grew up with in their native countries of Guatemala and Colombia, respectively.

Customers enjoying their coffee. Photo courtesy of Café Duo.

It comes naturally for the first-time business owners, Galicia said in an interview. Galicia worked in the restaurant industry in Stamford for 20 years just before starting the business. He moved to the United States in 2000. “I always wanted to have a coffee shop in Stamford. I always said to Paula, ‘We are from the countries that have the best coffees in the world, why don’t we take advantage of that?’” he reflected.

“That was one of my plans, but Stamford is expensive. The market is very wide open and in order to have a coffee shop in Stamford you have to [spend] a little high.”

The brand new plaza built a year ago is ideally located for downtown business. A runner, he used to pass it in the mornings and thought it would be, “a perfect place to have coffee” after running.

“I saw the [for lease] sign and reached out. I started everything in April,” Galicia said. They got the space in August and worked every day to get things ready for their soft opening, the day after Thanksgiving.

Valderrama, in a separate conversation, said the Danbury couple wants customers to enjoy coffee as part of a special time of their day, whether it’s through social time with family and friends or while getting some work done in their relaxing atmosphere.

Café Duo offers a variety of sweet or savory baked options daily to pair with our drip coffee or espresso drinks. Come pick your favorite or ask us for suggestions. Photo courtesy of Café Duo.

“Coffee is a big part of our culture and has always been present since we were kids. It’s normal for kids to drink coffee since young ages in Guatemala and in Colombia it is always the center of a conversation at the kitchen table, with friends at a cafe, at work, and in the streets from street vendors,” Valderrama said.

The café offers sweet and savory pastries delivered daily from various bakeries in New York, and yogurt parfait with maple pecan granola, honey, and berries.

Employees Kat Maki, who’s been with them from day one as a barista, and Valentina Olmos, who joined the staff recently and, “brings details to everything she makes,” help run the establishment.

The Café Duo team shown, from left, are   Laura (Joy) Rodriguez, barista, owners Paula Valderrama and Victor Galicia, and Kat Maki, barista. Photo courtesy of Café Duo.

So far, being the purveyors of fine barista coffee drinks has been a good experience, Valderrama said. While starting a business is a lot of work, the many hours have been rewarding. She likes seeing people’s reactions when they enter the shop. “We put in months and months, (because) we want it to feel this way, and all of a sudden you have someone walk in the door and they express exactly that. It’s really good to know you accomplished most of the things we wanted to do.”

In designing the space, their hope was to create somewhere inviting, a place where customers could enjoy lingering over social meetings, work, talking with friends, or simply taking a break from work or errands. “There’s a lot of places that have great products and great service but don’t make me want to stay, to sit and enjoy, so you just take out and go,” Valderrama said.

When they moved in, the space was newly-painted in white and felt like a pharmacy, so the owners warmed it up with black, dark blue, and wood accents and swapped the bright lighting to something more subdued, making the space more comfortable, Valderrama noted. Combined with a lot of natural light from the big windows and pictures from Guatemalan and Colombian coffee farms, Café Duo is 535 square feet of coziness.

There’s more work to do, the co-owners said. Chief among their goals is to provide a good quality product and excellent customer service.

“Not only in dining, but with everything in life you want to be kind and help others, especially in a world where we kind of miss those connections. We want to create a palace where everything is welcoming and warm. Even if you’re not staying long, just come and go, just feel a little of that feeling.”

Taylor P. on Yelp described Café Duo as a, “great addition to downtown Bethel!” and said “it has a classic cafe atmosphere that is very inviting.”

What a great place!

Kevin G. in the same thread said, “As [a] Guatemalan I know how to recognize quality coffee and a good barista too. This coffee shop hit the spot!”

The cafe is open every day. They use a special coffee roaster located within an hour of the shop for the coffee served there. Be sure to check it out!

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