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In 2012, my wife, Elena, and I were at a cross-roads in our lives. We had been man- aging our family’s noodle business for over 12 years and helped to grow it to the leading producer of Asian fresh noodles and wraps. But after 30+ years of operations, the family decided to sell the company and allow the next generation to grow in different directions. This meant that Elena and I needed to decide on what to do next. Though we originally met at a nonprofit agency, working in race relations and community development, we knew that it would be too hard to return to our original careers. We also knew that whatever we did next, it would have to involve our faith, passions and community. This search led to a literal journey around the globe and culminated in the opening of our first Copa Vida café in Pasadena, CA. 

For us, good coffee, tea and food are more than a product to sell. It is a plat- form and a context around which community can develop and flourish. Having been raised in immigrant families, we knew what it was like to not have a place to belong to… to be on the outside looking in. With Copa Vida, we wanted to create a place where everyone would feel like they had a place to come to. In the beginning, we focused heavily on the development of our beverages and food. We brought on partners who were ex- perts in the areas of coffee, tea and cuisine and we also started roasting our own beans and baking our own breads so that we could truly own the quality of our products. However, as we developed the Copa concept, the team realized that the product was only one of three critical components we would need in order to create that place for community. Service and space design (ambiance) also proved to be an important factor in what we valued and wanted to be known for. And after 10 years, we know that what we are and really want to be good at, is in designing experiences… 

We also learned that we couldn’t do that without you. Whether it’s with the way you interact with our team members or with the other customers or simply with your presence, you are a part of the community that helps make Copa Vida feel like Copa Vida. So whether you are a fan of our coffee or our food, we hope that your time with our product and our cafes provides you with an amazing experience that goes beyond great customer service and into a great community. 

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