Photos by Mathew Scott

Yancey Quinones

Oro

“In Guatemala, green coffee beans are called oro — gold — because the Europeans and people who bought the coffee were paying in gold coins.”

Having long been fascinated by the coffee traditions of his mother’s homeland, Yancey Quinones opened Antigua Coffee Roasters in 2005 in El Sereno. Later, after an opportunity arose to relocate into his hometown of Cypress Park, he reopened in this new location in 2008, and has been there ever since.

“My purpose of having the shop here is to provide a service. It provides space for people to come do work while enjoying some really good quality products.” And with the shop’s fifteen year anniversary fast approaching, Yancey shares that the secret to his success is simple: “never jeopardize high quality, from the beginning to the end.”

Through years of hard work and relationship building, Yancey has evolved Antigua Coffee Roasters into not just a thriving small business, but also a significant community space in a neighborhood that often lacks places to gather. It’s one of the few spots in the neighborhood where both longtime residents and newcomers can sit together and connect. But, recently, Yancey’s noticed a shift. It’s beginning to attract those “with more money, like hipsters.”

Yancey was raised in Cypress Park, so he’s witnessed firsthand as the area has grown rapidly and longtime residents have been displaced. On some level, he wonders if he or his coffee shop are to blame. “Did I do something wrong? What happened?,” he asks. Complicated questions like this have become more common for many long-time residents of LA, as communities across the city experience an influx of development and gentrification.

While there’s no simple answer to any of these questions, Yancey prides himself in maintaining Antigua Coffee Roasters as a community space and is doing his part to keep the community secure. These days, he also works to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit amongst the current generation of Cypress Park youth, leading workshops that teach “financial literacy, how to grow, how to build wealth, so [they] stay in [the] neighborhood.”

Yancey Quinones is the founder and owner of Antigua Coffee House, located in his hometown of Cypress Park. Hailing from a Guatemalan coffee growing family, via his mother and after traveling to Guatemala in the early 2000s and working in the coffee fields, Quinones dreamed of opening up his own coffee house. Today, Antigua is one of the few spaces in the neighborhood where both longtime residents and newcomers can sit together and connect, standing as a testament to Quinones’ unwavering dedication to coffee and his heritage.

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