Bree Brings the Brew with Brewja

Brewja (pronounced brew-ha), derived from the Spanish word bruja, which translates to witch in English, officially turned 1-years old in 2020! *Cue cheers* To celebrate, #411inthe510 goes to Bree, the fantastic owner behind it all. 

*Note: The majority, if not all, of the copy was written directly by Bree. I’m just here to amplify her voice. 🙂 

Brewja is a play on the word Brew because we obviously brew coffee and a play on the word bruja. When I think of a bruja, I think of natural healing remedies using herbs, crystals, tea, sage, etc. So, I think the name really describes me as a Latinx business owner and my business perfectly. It certainly doesn’t mean I am a witch. 

Where it all began… 

Last Spring 2019, I decided to leave my lovely marketing job in San Francisco for 7 years. I enjoyed my job there, but I was starting to crave more for my life. I was looking for a new adventure. Within a week, I decided to quit my job and planned to move to LA with my “then” boyfriend of 4 years. 

I thought I had it all figured out until the wildest roller coaster began! My boyfriend broke up with me before the move to LA. I was obviously devastated & heartbroken. I called my bestie, aka my mom, and told her what had happened. I asked, “What am I supposed to do now? I already quit my job!” My mom calmly responded with, “Just open your coffee shop as you’ve always wanted.” It seemed so obvious that that’s exactly what I wanted to do. 

Repetitive to say but follow your dreams! 

I’ve always dreamed of following in my mom’s footsteps and starting my own business one day. I quickly got to research “how to start a business” and “how to make coffee,” haha! I had never worked as a barista before, I certainly didn’t know how much it would cost to open a coffee shop. 

Between June 2019-Oct 2019, I learned how to make espressos, applied for a business license, used every last penny in my savings to order the equipment I would need. My mom offered to rent me a corner of counter space in her established bakery of 12 years. On October 5, 2019, Brewja Coffee was born! 

So many people from the community showed up to support our opening day! I was BEYOND overwhelmed. I had quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even have the staff to help me! Thankfully my mom, sister, best friends, and cousins jumped in to help! Phew! I often look back to that day and laugh. What was I even thinking?! I totally wasn’t ready to open, but we made it through, and not even one person complained. Every day that passed, I learned more about what I wanted Brewja Coffee to be. I knew that I wanted to provide the best quality ingredients. I started making my own simple syrups. I focused on sourcing as much as I could locally. I wanted to create drinks that unique and authentic to flavors that I personally love. 

*Cue the pandemic… 

We had about 5 great months before the pandemic hit. We closed our storefront for 3 months and reopened in June 2020. Thankfully I was able to find a way to pivot and keep the business going. The support and love from our community have been unbelievable. I am so grateful every day that we can keep our doors open. It hasn’t been easy. Our team hustles hard every day, but my team is amazing, and I am so grateful for them and my family. 

Some of my favorite things about this business are…

  • Opening the doors in the early morning to greet the first customer
  • Asking about their day
  • Chatting about their jobs, kids, families, weekend plans
  • Seeing how we’ve become a part of people’s daily routine 
  • Getting to know them more and more as the days go by
  • Eventually greeting them by their first name, 
  • Remembering their favorite drinks
  • And so much more 

When customers turn to friends

Many of these people have become friends. Sometimes, when I don’t see them come into the shop for a while, I even wonder if they’re ok. I grew up in this community; adding something positive for the people gives me so much life! We welcome everyone here; it is crucial that the community knows and feels that. 

I have so many exciting plans for the future that involves the community even more. Being able to create the narrative of what this business stands for is so exciting! Especially during a time when we need community, love, equality, and happiness most. It has been hard for me to get to know my new customers during the pandemic because of the masks and plexiglass we have to work behind now.

Everything is made with love, truly!

My love language is cooking; I simply follow my passion for cooking to create the menu here. I think the people of this community appreciate our unique Latinx vibe. Another thing that makes my heart sing is when I see people enjoying my creations. I use real cajeta (Mexican caramel), real cinnamon, real mazapan, real Mexican chocolate, fresh ingredients to make different Aguas. I also try to partner and collaborate with other women-owned or POC owned businesses. It’s important to source from the community first and bring awareness to these amazing people working on their dreams. 

New? Order this. 

Our most popular drink by far is the Horchata Iced Coffee, made with love. We make the horchata in-house with fresh ingredients and pair it with our house iced coffee. 

Other popular menu favorites? 

  • Dulce de leche latte
  • Mexican mocha
  • Lavender latte (The lavender latte + lavender lemonade includes real culinary lavender from Araceli Farms in Dixon, CA)
  • Mazapan latte
  • Cafe con Leche
  • Lemonade

When you try each drink, you can taste authentic flavors, not overly sweetened syrupy beverages. We also offer a toast menu on the weekends. All of the pastries/desserts are made by mom’s bakery, CAKE, by Gala Bakery. 

A message to all small business owners 

As a new business owner, I am just following my passion and doing things that I love. I have no playbook, following no one else’s rules, and it seems to be working out for me. I am following my own path as a business owner. I am so excited to celebrate our first anniversary on October 5! 

This next year, my focus is to polish and improve on what I’ve built and been a forever brand in this community. This year has been a wild roller coaster, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us. Everything, good and bad, happens for a reason and can lead you down unimaginable paths in life. I am so grateful. 

December 9, 2020

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