The 1400 block of Ottawa street came alive when Amor Hernandez & Mauricio Ontaneda opened their business last year, in 2020. Now that the world is at least partially open, passersby and patio goers get to enjoy the upbeat Latin music echoing from their charming space. The passion they have for what they do is contagious – a morning cortado from Café Amor leaves you with more pep in your step than any drive-thru can. When learning about their story, it came as no surprise to us that this energetic couple met on a night out dancing in Toronto. After getting married and starting a family, they took the plunge, relocated to Windsor and left their previous professions behind to realize Amor’s dream of opening her own café.
Amor grew up in a small, rustic village in Veracruz, Mexico, as the youngest of 12 children. Coffee, as she explains it, is a big part of daily life in Mexico, it’s served from breakfast to dinner, and even young children are served coffee with lots of milk. Many of her favourite childhood memories are centred around coffee, how her mother prepared it, the smell at 5 AM, and afternoon breaks with her father when he would read to her and discuss his love of art. This seemingly simple drink is what brings her home and connects her with her parents. The reason that opening a café was something she felt compelled to do, even though she had to give up her secure, 14-year accounting career to do it.
Mauricio, the man on the machine and the one behind their unique bean blend, is Ecuadorian. Their coffee gets its distinctive flavour from their mix of Latin American beans, elevating the flavour and quality to the next level. Their authentic food offerings, like the tinga and adobo sandwiches, empanadas and other baked goods are also a rare find in the city. But, Café Amor is about more than what’s on their menu – they’ve been truly successful in carving out a community centred around a love of art, coffee and a deep appreciation for every customer that comes through their doors.
The couple is also in full support of the burgeoning art scene on Ottawa by allowing artists to exhibit for free on their ‘brick wall’, especially those without the means to pay for pricey exhibitions. In addition to the vibrant art, their colourful retail corner hosts a beautiful consignment of handmade goods from Mexico.