Kiosko Brings Latin Pride—and Mexican Affogato—to the South Waterfront

Forget your vanilla latte. At this diminutive coffee shop, it's all "cortaditos" and "ahogados."

By Benjamin Tepler April 24, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Kiosko owners Angel Medina and Lucy Alvarez pour coffee at their South Waterfront shop.

Image: Michael Novak

Kiosko co-owner Angel Medina started his coffee drinking career earlier than most: “My grandmother gave me black coffee as a kid, thinking it would keep me focused at school. Obviously, she was completely crazy and wrong, but it got me hooked.”

As an adult, Medina roasted coffee at home just for fun. After the 2016 election, the 38-year-old, who grew up in California and Guadalajara, Mexico, launched his Smalltime Roasters as a way to raise money for United We Dream, an immigrant-youth-led network to help imperiled DACA recipients.

Medina’s beans were good enough that demand quickly outpaced his shoestring roasting operation. In July 2017, he and business partner/girlfriend Lucy Alvarez opened Kiosko, a glass-windowed box plunked a block from the river in South Waterfront Park.

Six seats, one skinny counter, and Chemex “vases” sprouting flowers fill this Latin-proud coffee shop, which highlights Mexican growers and gives coffee nomenclature a Latin American twist. That includes just about everything, from the shop’s name (in Mexico, a ubiquitous community gathering spot) to the all-Spanish language menu, to the trio of “cortaditos” on offer. Those cortado hybrids include a condensed milk Cubano (in honor of pre-Castro Cuban coffee); Mexican, with distilled café de olla spices; and Brazilian, which tastes like chocolate truffles.

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Image: Michael Novak

Kiosko’s next-level “ahogados” (that’s Spanish for affogato, or espresso-drowned ice cream) are key for early summer walks along the waterfront: three flavors dreamed up using Beaverton’s Mexican ice cream and paletas operation Ome Calli. Recently, that included a spicy chocolate mole number covered in cocoa nibs, freeze-dried raspberry, and pepitas, as well as a sweet, creamy horchata with almonds and a wafer for dipping.

In April, Medina and Alvarez opened a second pop-up shop inside nearby South Waterfront’s Frank Wine and Flower shop, with a third location in the wings. All the while, the duo has championed every single fundraising project that has found its way to the shop, most recently raising money for the ACLU. No matter how many Kioskos spring up in the next few years, says Medina, it will always be an intimate, hospitable place for dialogue. “When someone asks about a cortadito,” he says, “it’s more than just a question—it’s a lead-in to talk more about our background, where we are from.”

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