It’s been a big week for Ulysses Romero. Tomorrow, the coffee-fueled entrepreneur celebrates the second anniversary of his South Gate coffeehouse, which he named Tierra Mia. Things have been going so well that on March 12, he debuted a second Tierra Mia in downtown Huntington Park, near the bygone Warner movie palace.
Romero was born in Norwalk and raised in La Habra. He attended Berkeley undergrad, they worked in “strategy consulting” and performed non-profit work before earning his MBA at Stanford. He was looking to do something entrepreneurial that would cater to the Hispanic population, and was inspired by coffee. He spent an influential stretch working for Martin Diedrich at Kean Coffee on weekends before writing a business plan for Tierra Mia.
Pacific is a busy shop-lined boulevard that has an open-air market feel, especially on weekends. The space housed a McDonald’s for 11 years and most recently, a Mexican restaurant. Decor is minimal, with sumptuous couches and chairs. Photos of coffee farmers on the walls. Order at the marble counter, where the baristas brew Intelligentsia Coffee and Stumptown Coffee. At South Gate, he offered Intelligentsia from the beginning, but after a recent trip to Seattle and Portland, he learned about Stumptown and decided to expand his pourover offerings. Intelligentsia is the only espresso option.
Romero said Tierra Mia typically features 3-4 coffees per day for pourover, which are brewed using two different methods. “With the stir method, it tends to bring out the acidity of the coffee, gives it more clarity,” says Romero. “Continuous pour, you just get that acidity and sweetness but still gives you that pop that I like.”
Tierra Mia offers a traditional line-up of espresso drinks. They’re using a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, which is the same machine you’ll find in South Gate. “It would be nice to have a super expensive machine with all the bells and whistles,” says Romero, “but if you have good training and a good grinder, you can pull really good shots.”
There are also a handful of Latin-flavored specialty drinks like the Coco Loco, Horchata, Mocha Mexicano and Cafecito Cubano Con Leche, a sweet option where the shots of espresso are pulled directly over sugar before being enriched with half-and-half. Romero decided on a “varied menu that I thought the community would want, made with the best ingredients and flavors possible.” If you’re looking to eat, Tierra Mia carries Porto’s Bakery pastries.