Life Planning with Coffee
Café Luz has not only been a fortnightly haven of Wi-Fi and gorgeous food, it’s been an inspiration. The owner set up the coffee shop in 2007, with only nine wooden tables in an otherwise empty space. The vision was simple; to help make a difference to local communities.
Fast forward and there is no doubt that this has been, and continues to be, the case. The coffee shop has expended and now (thankfully) possesses a much broader variety of furniture – ranging from church-style pews to luxurious brown leather sofas. They hold a liquor license, helping to generate even further funds. Jane, or Juanita as her Spanish-speaking staff call her, tells me they ‘now have an actual hi-fi’ (…for the first 3 years, they used a Walkman attached to computer speakers). Surrounding the bar is a range of crafts, local produce and tourist memorabilia. Additionally, they own a very comfortable hostel across the road and also a tourist shop which offers eco-tours into Miraflor and Somoto Canyon (two nearby areas of outstanding beauty).
Their project work reaches countless remote communities across the North of Nicaragua
Jane, originally from Scotland but now a Nicaraguan citizen, feels the success of the social enterprise is down to the diversity of their offerings. And I can see how, in fact, I’ve been a walking example: After stumbling in to the café last October for WI-FI we went on to eat countless meals here, have enjoyed several evenings of live music, stayed in the hostel (initially for one night – which developed into four!) and we signed up to the Miraflor trip. Needless to say we’ve also filled our bags with goodies on sale too – from cigars and greeting cards to chocolate and colourful bags.
Café Luz has community development at its core and every penny spent has genuinely felt worthwhile
More importantly for me, they’ve been more than logistical support and leisurely comfort, they’ve been inspirational. The local community members working here are clearly proud of the organisation and have developed worthy aspirations themselves; one staff member, Leyser, wants to study a Masters in Environmental Development in the UK. He started volunteering here five years ago, before becoming a paid staff member, and has acquired a degree in Social Development alongside his work.
My personal experience of volunteering with Progressio and living with a Nicaraguan family has been inspiring enough. Add to this the close nit relationship developed with this establishment and it now feels like they’ve been mentors this whole time; subliminally showing what our next steps could be when we return home…
I left the UK under a dark cloud and arrived in this Latin American country seeking answers. What do I want to do in life? And how can I impact a place clouded with so much negativity?
“I now possess answers”
I’ve always believed that business can, and should, be a force for good and it’s been reassuring speaking with someone who feels the same. Having spent several months deciding whether to attempt something again, my ideas have now fallen into place and my desire to try something meaningful is cemented.
I don’t want to leave Nicaragua but, for the first time since arriving, I’m looking forward to returning to Lancashire and getting my teeth into something small but substantial.
To anyone in the North of Nicaragua, I urge you to visit Café Luz – and to get to know them. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave feeling equally as inspired?!
Looking for Nicaraguan paradise in the Caribbean? Click here for information on Big Corn Island; a must see before you die!