When Dalila Abigail Rivera came to the country at 15, she wanted to focus on getting a job and learning the language. Now 30 years old, Rivera is the owner of her very own coffee shop, one that uses coffee imported from her father’s farm back in their native El Salvador: Rivers Cafe USA.
Rivers opened midsummer on Jericho Turnpike, about a half mile from Buttercooky Bakery and Tony’s Tacos, in a smaller-scale shop with a walk-up counter for ordering beverages and just enough space to display homemade sweets and its coffee and tea selections.
The main event here is sold in traditional and yellow honey varieties. If you like to drink your coffee black Dalila (who goes by Abby) said you want the traditional version, which goes through fermentation where the fruit pulp is taken out of the coffee cherry and sits in water for seven to eight days. The end result is a smooth tasting, well balanced flavor.
Meanwhile, the farm's yellow honey beans go from tree to "bed," where they lay scattered in the sunlight for 15 to 20 days, conserving its natural honey flavor. The farm, in the Chinchontepec mountain range of El Salvador, grows only organic, chemical-free coffee used for the shop’s hot and cold drinks that Rivera learned to make by watching YouTube videos.
Treats such as tres leches cakes, flan, muffins, bollitos de queso (cheese balls), pastel de leche (vanilla cookies) and a sweet pound cake-like version of quesadilla are all made by women from Rivera’s church, Puerta Del Cielo in Lindenhurst. Other sweets, from semita de pina (pineapple pie) and alfajores cookies are from Segovia’s Bakery in Hempstead.
Rivera credits her past job experiences combined with ESL classes for how far she’s come today. It was at her last job at a wholesale seafood company where she learned the most, she said, including how to run a business. After her father, a truck driver for a moving company, expressed interest in her taking on a role in the family business, Rivera said she decided to "work with him, but not for him." Soon after, she brought the family's coffee stateside selling word-of-mouth until she opened the coffee shop in July.
Reflecting on her past, Rivera said it wasn't an easy transition when she decided to leave El Salvador, where she "was living the teenage dream" being raised by her grandmother while her parents and siblings started a new life in Hempstead. "But life teaches you to see things in different ways."
Rivers Cafe USA is at 304 Jericho Tpke. in Floral Park; open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 516-830-5781, riverscafeusa.com