In an unassuming building in Detroit’s West Village neighborhood sits Encarnacion, a new Latin coffee shop and eatery that is holding a soft opening this week. The cafe has been in the works for a while, opened by Robert Encarnacion with the goal of bringing more Latin food and culture to the city.
The owner moved to Detroit from the Dominican Republic in 2019 and found a home in West Village a few months later. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to take a class on how to make latte art using a French press, which is when the idea of opening a coffee shop first sparked. Since then, he has built up a small following on Encarnacion’s Instagram page showcasing his time learning about the art of coffee making.
In April 2021, Encarnacion purchased a building at 8016 Kercheval Ave., but the journey to actually opening the cafe’s doors was difficult, mainly due to the costs of needed equipment.
Just in time for the holidays though, Encarnacion is finally ready for business. Hours will be Tuesday through Sunday 7 a.m.-3 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, when the store will close at 1 p.m.
Currently, the menu is limited to some signature lattes, a full espresso bar, and minimal breakfast options including bagels from the Detroit Institute of Bagels. Offerings will soon include Cubano coffee, freshly squeezed juices, avocado and tomato toast, a Cuban sandwich, a fresh fruit salad, and breakfast sandwiches.
Besides the bagels, all items are made in-house with fresh ingredients.
The menu will continue to expand through the coming weeks and is mainly curated by Chef Mauro Gonzalez.
“I come from fine dining, I come from that high-end world, but over the years I’ve just wanted to do more of a family-style menu and family-style serving, so that’s pretty much what I want to bring here,” Gonzalez says.
In the upcoming months, Encarnacion and Gonzalez hope to open a cantina alongside the cafe, which will serve Latin American street food such as rice bowls and Venezuelan-style arepas.
“We want to bring elevated traditional recipes in a more upscale style where you take that first bite and you just go, ‘Wow, this is amazing, it’s like I’m sitting down in my grandma’s house,’” Gonzalez says.
He adds that both he and Encarnacion have a shared goal with the cafe of bringing the community together.
To learn more information on Encarnacion and for updates on menu items, you can follow the coffee shop on Instagram (@encarnacion).