NORTHBOROUGH – Family – that’s what stuck out to Senator Elizabeth Warren after learning about the journey of Alexis and Osiris Vallejos and their shop, Brilla Coffee.
Warren visited Brilla Coffee on Wednesday afternoon and met with the Vallejos to hear their telling of that story.
“This is America at its best,” she told the Community Advocate during her visit. “It’s all about opportunity. People who work hard, and if they have a chance, can pull something great for themselves and for everyone else.”
The Vallejos had the idea for Brilla Coffee back in 2019. Initially, they roasted and distributed their coffee to local coffee shops, stores and customers online. In 2021, though, they opened two brick-and-mortar locations in Northborough and Holden.
Alexis and Osiris are from Matagalpa, which is a mountainous area in northern Nicaragua. Now that they run their own shop, the Vallejos use direct-trade agreements to buy beans from places like their hometown.
Warren, who grew up and still has family in Oklahoma, said the idea of people helping each other, even across distances, speaks to her.
“It is a reminder that small businesses are family affairs,” Warren said.
During her visit, Warren met with the Vallejos’ family members, including their two sons, to whom they hope to pass on their business.
Other family members also help out with Brilla’s operation, including family in Nicaragua that help grow and market the beans that Brilla uses.
Warren reflected on her own past, noting that her first non-babysitting job involved working in her aunt’s Mexican restaurant.
“With a small business, everybody in the family works,” Warren said.
Warren noted the family’s pride in Brilla Coffee.
“And they should [be proud],” she said.
“This is a place for people to come,” she continued. “It’s a place that strengthens a community, makes a town more livable, that gives people a destination to walk the dog or drop by and meet friends.”
Indeed, Brilla is a gathering place for Northborough residents. Even during Warren’s visit, guests dropped in with children or stopped by to pick up an afternoon cup of coffee.
Warren said she loved seeing this type of innovation. That’s why, she said, it was important at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to make a federal investment in small businesses.
“The airline industry had plenty of lobbyists, and they got a huge investment from the federal government, and I understand the reasons why. But our small businesses need help,” she said.