Christian Guzman Herrera has built a “Little Colombia” just off the East River in Williamsburg. An offshoot of his four-year-old Pueblo Querido coffee shop and roastery at 195 Greenpoint Ave., Herrera’s second store at 34 North 6th St. has transformed an old daycare center into a full-service Colombian cafe.
The cafe, which opened mid-May, had been leasing the space for nearly a year before the doors opened, but, as they often do in New York, renovations took much longer than expected, and a surprise pandemic didn’t help with importing the espresso equipment he needed from Italy, which had closed by the time he was ready to purchase the tools.
“I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” Herrera says of his hesitancy to open the second Pueblo Querido amidst COVID-19 chaos. But the stream of eager customers trickling in and out of the colorful cafe on a weekday morning do not seem disappointed. In fact, many of them are neighborhood regulars.
Pueblo Querido’s new location is covered up to the ceiling in Colombian culture. Industrial ceiling equipment is artfully covered in canvas coffee bean sacks.
A pole which Herrera thought was inconveniently placed the middle of the shop is adorned with colorful textiles, the patterns of which he explains are woven from the artisan’s dreams.
Above the cash register hang handmade woven bags, decorations that customers frequently ask to purchase. “How much?” is a common question for coffee seekers admiring the imported accessories. One day, Herrera would be eager to vend them, but for now, it’s just too difficult to import the artisanal items.
Originally, the decoration plan for the new Pueblo Querido was for a friend in Colombia to ship Herrera all the decor he’d envisioned for his space, but seeing the cost, he decided to fly home to Colombia and pick up the textiles and artwork himself.
The only big shipment, and big is an understatement, that he arranged was to import a Willy Jeep, the most common vehicle seen on Colombian coffee farms. The bright red SUV is a focal point of the cafe while indoor furniture is still on hold for pandemic-related indoor regulations.
When furniture can finally be set up, Herrera will mount the Jeep to the wall, and hopes the space can be a place for community to congregate and chat (rather than isolate in front of laptops).
For now, Pueblo Querido serves a full menu to-go, including coffee drinks and beans roasted in Greenpoint daily, plus Colombian pastries like arepas de choclo (flat corn cakes) and pandebono (yuca-based sweet buns with cheese) that Herrera bakes from scratch each morning. And yes, they’re worth waking up early for.