June 19, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Despite Recent Vandalism, Colton’s Aroma De Cafe Shines as an Affordable 4.8-Star Rated Sandwich and Coffee Shop

4 min read

(Left to right) Aroma De Cafe Owner Jesus Villarruel (Chuy) and his sister Roxana Pachuca in the dining area of the shop, which is clean, bright, and features a minimalistic/modern aesthetic.

Aroma De Cafe, a beloved sandwich and coffee shop in downtown Colton, has quickly become a cherished spot since opening in January 2024. The cafe’s unique blend of delicious food, exceptional coffee, and community-focused atmosphere has earned it a stellar 4.8-star rating on both Google and Yelp.

Owner Jesus Villarruel, affectionately known as Chuy, has infused Aroma De Cafe with a sense of community and personal dedication. The idea for the shop was born during a work trip to San Jose. “I was inspecting a fight in San Jose, and my hotel was downtown. I walked out of my room, saw a small coffee shop, and thought, ‘I’ve always wanted to start a business like this,’” Villarruel recalled.

Villarruel’s journey to opening Aroma De Cafe was not straightforward. As a Distribution Operator for Riverside Highland Water Company and an Athletic Inspector for the State of California’s professional combative sports, including UFC and boxing events for Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Jaime Munguia, and Logan Paul, Villarruel juggles multiple roles. His dream of owning a coffee shop took a backseat when his father fell ill with cancer. After his father’s passing in 2022, Villarruel was inspired to pursue his dream as a tribute to his father’s perseverance and legacy.

“My dad was from Mexico and managed to establish himself here. Seeing what he accomplished with so little made me realize that with all the resources at my fingertips, I had to give it a try,” Villarruel said. He searched for the perfect location in downtown Colton and finally found it near the police station and civic center. “We already have Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts; it was time for a mom-and-pop coffee shop.”

Aroma De Cafe offers a variety of delicious options, from caramel macchiatos to this week’s special, a horchata latte. The menu also features a “build your own” turkey sandwich with locally sourced breads from Old Town Bakery Company in San Bernardino, and a range of other fresh ingredients from local stores like Restaurant Depot, Smart & Final, and Stater Bros in Colton.

One of the unique aspects of Aroma De Cafe is its community focus. Every Saturday, a men’s Bible group meets at the shop, making it a hub for community engagement. “We’re homegrown,” Villarruel said proudly. “I graduated from Colton Highland School in 1997 and wanted to create a place where the community could gather, whether they’re walking or biking over.”

Villarruel’s journey hasn’t been without challenges. “One of the biggest struggles was getting all the permits through the city. I had to go through an architect even for non-structural walls, which impacted my budget significantly,” he explained. Competing with big corporations that advertise heavily on TV and social media is another hurdle. “We rely solely on social media for advertising. Consistency in customer flow is tough when up against the big players.”

Employee Roxana Pachuca handing customer Kenny his stamp card.

Despite these obstacles, Villarruel remains committed to balancing his business with family time. “Even with my full-time job, I can still have family time. My schedule varies, but I make it work because this business is also about showing my daughters what’s possible and providing for them.”

Villarruel’s dedication extends beyond his coffee shop. He serves as the head chairman for the Code Enforcement and Housing Appeals Board, a position he’s held since 2018. His involvement in the community and his business’s commitment to local sourcing reflect his deep roots in Colton.

The community’s support is evident in the shop’s high ratings, with 4.8 stars on both Google and Yelp. Regulars like a man named Kenny, a mentally disabled Colton resident, who visits daily for his chocolate milkshake, highlight the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere of Aroma De Cafe. “Kenny comes in every day, and it’s interactions like these that make all the hard work worthwhile,” Villarruel shared.

Aroma De Cafe is located at 741 N La Cadena Dr., Unit 8, and offers phone orders, catering, coffee travelers, and DoorDash services. They even have a loyalty card program – buy nine drinks, and the tenth is free. With a manual espresso machine, the cafe caters to customer preferences, making each drink just right.

On the morning of May 19th, Aroma De Cafe experienced an unfortunate act of vandalism. Someone put super glue into the key insert of the front door, delaying the usual 7 AM opening until 11 AM. Despite this setback, Villarruel remains undeterred. “I was disappointed when I saw what happened, but the support from our regulars and the community has been overwhelming,” he said. “We opened a bit late, but the day turned out great, thanks to everyone’s patience and encouragement.”

Villarruel’s journey to opening Aroma De Cafe included a hands-on learning experience. “To learn how to make coffee and espresso, I worked for a lady with a coffee cart at the fairgrounds. I asked her if I could work for her for free in exchange for learning, and I worked a few events to learn how to use espresso machines,” he shared.

For more information or to place an order, contact Aroma De Cafe at (909) 222-4467. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 3 PM, and on Saturdays from 7 AM to 12 PM. With its blend of great coffee, delicious sandwiches, and community spirit, Aroma De Cafe is here to stay, despite the challenges.

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