Junction City coffee shop opens, owners giving back to coffee bean harvesters

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – When you buy a cup of coffee at the recently opened Café Santa Rosa, the support stretches beyond Central Illinois. The impact is international.

Owner Marta Vidal and her husband, Heber are giving back to the South American community they call home. As immigrants from Colombia, they have seen the challenges that the country’s coffee harvesters face firsthand.

“We live in a country with safety. It’s taken for granted. Where there are so many resources available for people. In Colombia, harvesters live in poor conditions.”

marta vidal

From the lack of medical care, childcare options and environmental safeguards, Marta said the Colombian farmhands also climb steep hillsides carrying up to 200 pounds of harvested coffee beans.

Marta said, “The harvesters and the baristas, they are lending their hands, their backs and they are the ones that get the [least] in the coffee chain production. So we want to challenge that.”

So the Vidal family stepped in to help buying a farm in Colombia.

“The idea was only to bring the green coffee. Nothing else, just to bring the green coffee, sell it to roasters, sell it to brokers and that was it. But then we start—we continued learning more and seeing that—seeing we could help more if we started roasting coffee,” she said.

Now, along with the Café Santa Rosa operation, they oversee the coffee-making process from planting to purchasing and they’re employing 25 harvesters. The coffee that customers buy directly supports the locals’ needs.

Marta said, “We started this free clinic—free health clinics May 2015. We hired two Colombian doctors, one dentist.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the family has also battled its own hurdles. Café Santa Rosa was scheduled to open at the end of March, but that timeline got pushed back until July due to the state’s stay-at-home orders.

“It worried us,” said Rafael Vidal, the son and general manager. “How is this going to affect us budget-wise? Are we still going to be able to stay afloat or are we going to have to shut down right after opening?”

But even in trying times, the coffee shop has consistently gained support. Rafael said his parents’ mission has always been consistent.

“Growing up my parents were always big on—even if we don’t have—if you have the capacity to, help someone else in need,” Rafael said.

Rafael said he’s grateful his family is making an impact beyond the borders of the United States.

“We’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to come to this country and we feel like we have to pay it back to other people.”

Rafael vidal

The Vidal family said they’re just getting started.

Marta said, “We are here. We’re in this country and we’re going to do the best we can to help others.”

Café Santa Rosa is located at 5901 N. Prospect Rd. Suite 7 in Peoria.

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