Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Abner Roldán and Karla Quiñones - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Abner Roldán and Karla Quiñones

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, Abner Roldán and his wife, Karla Quiñones, set up shop outside their soon-to-open Café Comunión in San Juan’s Santurce barrio. There was no power, but the duo sold drip coffee and homemade pastries to passersby, wanting to be a beacon for their community. “We always try to be present,” Quiñones says. The approach won over regulars, who still remember the comfort of their hot coffee.

Longtime coffee pros Roldán and Quiñones opened Comunión to bring the voice of Puerto Rican coffee to the specialty scene. The multi-roaster shop serves global coffees while educating locals and international guests about coffee grown only an hour away. Coffee has been farmed in Puerto Rico for nearly 300 years and is ingrained in the island’s culture and daily life, Roldán says, but many people are disconnected from the local industry, recently impacted by droughts and hurricanes. COVID-19 brought new challenges to the island’s coffee industry, with reduced access to farm labor and shops shuttered and unsupported by the government.

Amidst it all, Comunión has managed to thrive, anchored in providing consistency to their community and even offering innovation for the future of Puerto Rican coffee: Last summer, Quiñones launched educational coffee collective Candela, for women and nonbinary people. “They share coffee recipes, visit farms, and learn more about coffee as a whole,” says Roldán. “A few years ago, that wouldn’t have happened.”

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