La Finca Coffee is opening a location in the Grove this fall

La Finca Coffee will open a second location at 4440 Manchester Road in the Grove this fall. The new shop will be the coffee shop and roaster’s first location in the city of St. Louis after almost four years establishing its reputation in Eureka. 

Co-owners John and Alejandra Hagedorn opened La Finca’s original location in October 2018, inspired by a cafe they had visited on a visit to Alejandra’s home in Colombia. “There was a lot of stone and rustic furniture, and then the artwork was just from floor to ceiling, on every wall,” John said. Alejandra had spoken fondly of the aesthetics and style of the cafe culture in her home country, but this initially went over his head. “I had no reference point,” he said. “When we went there, and I experienced it firsthand, I said, 'Yeah, there's nothing like this back home.'” 

La Finca’s original location was built in the image of the cafe the Hagedorns had encountered in Colombia, and the new location will have echoes of that design. However, John Hagedorn said it will also be a brighter space. “Light colors, a more tropical feel,” he said. The approximately 1,300-square-foot space, part of a new apartment building directly opposite Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., will seat around 30 customers inside. Hagedorn also plans to add a couple of tables streetside. The larger location allows more space for La Finca’s roasting operation, providing a platform to grow the wholesale arm of the business.

Unlike the original location, where food options are limited to a selection of pastries, the Grove café will have its own kitchen. The menu will divide broadly into two categories: Mexican tortas and corn-based Colombian arepas. The tortas are what John brings to the table, thanks to recipes handed down from his Mexican mother and grandmother. His mother owned El Burrito Loco in South City in the early 2000s, while his grandma was known in her hometown in Mexico for her torta shop. 

Hagedorn said the torta selection will be inspired by traditional combinations of flavors and ingredients, with family recipes a source for many of the preparations. One example of that will be his grandma’s “Doña Maria” torta. “It was melted cheese, ham and lettuce, and this salsa that’s been passed down from generation to generation,” Hagedorn said. “I can’t wait, because people are going to love the taste of this sandwich.” Other tortas that he’s contemplating for the menu include the torta cubana (not to be confused with a Cuban sandwich) and the torta ahogada (which translates as “drowned sandwich”), a pork sandwich served on crustier-than-usual bread, which is then doused in a salsa. 

Alejandra Hagedorn is developing the arepas based on recipes her stepfather used in his restaurant in Colombia. “In Colombia, they have arepas with everything,” John Hagedorn said. “Breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s an arepa.” 

La Finca’s coffee selection includes signature items like tinto ­– black coffee prepared with panela (an unrefined brown sugar used widely in Colombia) – which is a daily staple in Colombia. “It’s a little bit more than just making black coffee and adding sugar to it,” he said. Another favorite item of Hagedorn’s is the Café de Olla, a Mexican-inspired coffee made with cinnamon and sugar. Those items supplement a range of espresso drinks, in addition to smoothies, frappes and a rotation of seasonal featured coffees. 

A recent seasonal addition is the espresso tonic, which Hagedorn is so fond of that he said it will be offered permanently. “We're always adding new things, new signature drinks, new things that I'm interested in at the time,” Hagedorn said. “Right now, I'm into mocktails and things like that. I like that mixture of bitters and subtle flavors.” Hagedorn said he draws inspiration from the latest trends and techniques on display at events like the World Barista Championship.

Hagedorn said opening hours at La Finca’s new cafe will be similar to the Eureka location’s 6 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. weekday hours. Construction is underway on the space, and Hagedorn anticipates a two-month buildout, though he was careful to acknowledge the possibility of delays.