The publication of "The Inspiring Story of Café La Fortuna" was intended to coincide with the Hinsdale coffee shop's 10-year anniversary in 2022.

The process, however, was a bit more time-consuming than anticipated.

"It took us a little longer," owner Angela Lavelli said with a laugh.

Lavelli and her co-writer - and daughter - Alejandra Franco will hold a release party for the book from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the Hinsdale Public Library (see Page 24 for details). The work - the first in a series of books - is dedicated to their loyal customers who have been so integral to their journey.

"I've always said that this is the extension of my kitchen," Lavelli said. "(Customers) become friends and family."

The pages serve up interesting information about coffee history and diversity along with how Café La Fortuna came to be. Lavelli found getting the copy just right was a lot like figuring out the perfect brew.

"The publisher, every time that we were sending something they were changing it and changing it," she remarked.

An offer to have a ghost writer provided was declined.

"This is not novel about some romance," Lavelli quipped. "These are facts. Whatever we are writing about coffee are facts. We need an editor, but we don't need a ghost writer."

Readers gain interesting tidbits about everything from the history of coffee to different kinds of grinders, with a couple of recipes included. They also learn of the family's 2006 move to the U.S. from Mexico City to build upon the coffee roasting enterprise Lavelli and her husband developed in Mexico City.

The plan was to stay in the States for two years, but fate had other designs. In 2012, they were looking for a space to open a coffee roasting operation in the western suburbs that would provide wholesale products to restaurants and retail to walk-in customers.

"At that time it was the perfect size," Lavelli said of the 46 Village Place location they settled on.

Friends questioned the vision of going up against the ubiquitous national coffee shop chains. Soon customers were coming to try the unique Café de Olla and Mayan coffee and appreciating the personal service they encountered.

"The word of mouth just started spreading," she said. "We try to learn their names and we try to remember their drinks."

Testimonies in the book speak to the comfortable charm of Café La Fortuna, with the "Cheers" analogy used more than once. The pandemic stirred up fear, Lavelli said, but also people's support for their local business.

"It brought the best out of everyone," she said.

Her daughter, Alejandra Franco, has become a key partner - in the shop and the book series.

"It's fun when people realize there's so much work that goes into a simply cup of coffee," Franco said of people's reaction to the book.

Lavelli said the project has inspired them, too.

"We have learned a lot about where coffee comes from, how it's processed, how it's roasted, the different grinds," she said. "And we still have a lot more to discover."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean