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'An impressive young man' says our reporter, of the entrepreneurial owner of a coffee shop on Gladstone Street

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - A new way to order your coffee ahead, via a mobile device, is being tried by Café Zamora in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood. Here, Ami Rosales, weekday morning barista, awaits an order in person or online. Theysell homemade tamales there now, too. If you have ever stood in line to order a coffee at a small independent coffee shop, and then had to turn away before being served because the line was long and your schedule was tight, a new application for your phone could solve the problem.

The "Joe Coffee" app, created five years ago by a family start-up in Seattle, has now been implemented by Café Zamora on S.E. 37th Avenue and Gladstone Street, in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood. According to café owner Hector Mejia Zamora, Café Zamora is one of the first in Portland to try this new way of ordering coffee.

Mejia, an enterprising young Guatemalan local coffee shop owner, is eager to give the new app a try. His life story was shared in the October, 2019, issue of THE BEE – which highlighted his strong work ethic, his perseverance, and his willingness to innovate.

The "Joe Coffee" app makes it possible for customers of local coffee shops such as his to pre-order their coffee, and pay for it, on mobile devices. And by using the app, customers can earn points towards free drinks, and redeem them anywhere within the "Joe" network. Points can be earned by buying drinks, referring friends, and writing reviews.

Mejia explains why he is implementing the app for his business: "There are times when few customers are in the shop – and then all of a sudden there is a line of five or six people waiting to place their order. It can stress the barista to try to fill all of the orders at once, instead of a balanced demand; and sometimes the wait is too long for customers who want a quick drink, and they leave.

"We love being able to develop relationships with our customers and take the time to talk to them," he continued, "But there are scenarios in which we need to get many customers served as they walk in, and we might not be able to talk to all of them as we would like, and we have to move to the next customer, and then the next one.

With these new technologies there are often privacy issues, but Mejia says the network is secure; and, while people might fear new changes, "the reality is that the future is digital currencies and not physical bills anymore."

Giving an update on the coffee shop, Mejia says, "Harvest is over back home [in Guatemala], so a few interesting things will be coming up towards the coffee shop way. We got a domestic kitchen license from the ODA, so we are selling tamales made by my mother – buy two for $5, and a third is donated to children who need food. I'm learning from my mother while helping her. A benefit is that you can pay from the safety of your cellphone using the "Joe Coffee app" since we are trying to do our best to keep 'hands interaction' to a minimum right now. We were able to crowd-fund enough through a GoFundMe [gf.me/u/xrt43q] online campaign to donate 150 Tamales. On Monday March 16th I donated 30 tamales to the school counselor at Grout Elementary School, who delivered them to families they knew needed them the most. The next three days I personally delivered 30 tamales to the Kenilworth Presbyterian Church, 30 tamales to the Willamette Shelter on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, 30 more another day to Grout Elementary School, and 30 to the MLK Jr. Workers Center.

If you'd like to try the tamales yourself, call 971/336-7398 to order ahead, or visit during Café Zamora's new hours daily: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. To learn more, go online – www.cafezamorapdx.com


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