Three weeks into having opened his coffee shop, Daniel Hermosillo, owner of Semilla Coffee Lab, sat down to chat about coffee, why he doesn’t do frappes and what drives him to keep going.
“I didn’t like coffee for a long time. I understood it as something meant to wake you up, rather than be enjoyed.” Hermosillo said as he stood, relaxed behind the counter of his shop. He explained that his passion for coffee developed as he saw how it was closely tied to inspiring creatives and artists such as his dad, a guitarist who toured with Luis Miguel.
He aims to have his coffee shop be a catalyst for that sort of inspiration in the Valley.
The coffee shop for Hermosillo represents a meeting ground for different artists, graphic designers, journalists, and musicians. The chill environment of the finely-finished wooden furniture and intimate setting lends itself to place for thought, work, and inspiration.
“I wanted to take art from a different angle, and become a meeting place where creatives can all come and drink coffee for what it is,” Hermosillo believes the Valley is lacking in quality coffee culture. It’s there, he says, but he wants to up the game and bring something new. He says Semilla Coffee Lab was established out of necessity. He felt there really isn’t quality coffee being brewed in McAllen.
“Mission is Lucky! They’ve got Jitterz within a five-minute radius,” Hermosillo exclaimed. He believes only a handful of shops in the Valley are doing coffee right. And he repeatedly states that he’s doing this out of necessity to the region.
Hermosillo is somewhat of a purist when it comes to coffee. Quick to snub at the world of frappes and syrup drinks. He recently posted a video taking a jab at Oreo frappes on Instagram, a show of his resistance to the dessert drink culture.
“We do Tragos here. They are coffee-based mixology—coffee cocktails,” there is an air of what could be misconstrued as snobbery surrounding Hermosillo when he talks about coffee, but—from his words—it’s that he ultimately respects the process of coffee making. He hopes his coffee cocktails could change the perspective of what cold coffee should be. His meticulous process of creating the cocktails, a mainstay of his menu, is buying the hibiscus flowers and tamarind which are peeled and prepared naturally to serve in three varieties: lemon, hibiscus and his most popular mix, tamarind—“a dark fruit that mixes well with coffee.”
“We feel this process is better, it’s more work, but it’s for the respect of the coffee. It’s about having respect for the coffee and mixing it with products that are at the same level,” he hopes that coffee goes in the direction of the wine industry, that Valley natives become educated and demand the best product.
The spectrum of tastes and techniques he’s using to make espresso drinks and coffee cocktails seems to be working. People that love coffee go out of their way to find the tucked away shop on 4715 N 10th in McAllen. The shop sits behind a brick building, a black flag waving decorated with beautifully-designed Semilla Coffee Lab logo signals the location.
“It’s more than a business for me, it’s about being able to talk, drink and be around coffee. Even when living the dream it’s a lot of work,” Hermosillo chuckles as he gets up to serve another customer walking in, “Twelve hour shifts is the dream!”