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[whitespace] Elizabeth Orozco
Photograph by Paul Myers

Elizabeth Orozco of Cafecito

Rock 'n' Coffee

By Todd Inoue

TAKE ONE stay-at-home mom and one project manager dad from a high-tech firm and transplant them into a bohemian cafe adjacent to a taqueria. Add leche calor, spoken-word, jazz and hip-hop and stir. With no restaurant or cafe experience, husband and wife Sam and Elizabeth Orozco took over the tattoo parlor next to Iguana's Taqueria in downtown San Jose and turned it into a happenin' space that serves up good vibes alongside coffee drinks and pastries.

Monday and Thursdays are open-mic nights, with music and rhythmic vocals. Tuesdays feature gospel/worship music. Friday nights are split between hip-hop and jazz. Saturdays highlight local musicians. A poetry night is planned for Wednesdays. This intellectual and creative atmosphere has earned Cafecito a loyal following, one that includes local musicians like Ron E. Beck, Danny Hull and Polo Jones, who sit in to jam.

"I think there's a tremendous amount of talent in San Jose," says Elizabeth. "There's a lot of people looking to express themselves through music and poetry. We have one guy who plays a washtub--and plays it like a guitar. It sounds like a bass. There's a whole variety. It's almost a musical network. Once they hear about it, they want to be a part of it."

Cafecito has become a family affair. The Orozco's sons--Samuel (19) and Jeremy (18)--handle the booking while Mom and Dad keep things running smoothly. Asked whether she has adapted to the "bohemian" cafe culture, Elizabeth laughs a sweet laugh and says, "Life is too short to be stuck doing one thing."

Metro: Where do you and Sam like to go out to eat?

Orozco: We like to go to Bella Mia and have a nice quiet dinner. It's a nice setting. We were at Spiedo over the weekend, and that is really nice. They make the best Cosmopolitans. We like Original Joe's when we want meat and potatoes types of meals. If we want tacos and more authentic Mexican style, we go Las Brasas. We've tried other little places just to find that same flavor you get in Mexico. It's really hard to do but there, they have the nice patio seating, and once in a while, the mariachis come out and play.

What about arts and culture? Where do you guys hang out?

When we go out, we'll listen to bands. Like at Spiedo, Ron E. Beck was there playing with Clifford Coulter and Danny Hull. We go to JJ's and listen to Chris Cain or different blues people like that. We were in Santa Cruz over the weekend at Moe's Alley listening to jazz music. Wherever we hear our friends are playing, we'll go listen in on a couple of sets.

Where do you go for fresh produce and Mexican groceries?

I like to go to the Farmer's Market on Jackson Street in Japantown on Sundays and pick up fresh flowers, produce and bread. They also have scones when we feel like having scones in the morning. We go to Mi Pueblo for Mexican pastry. A lot of the Mexican bakeries use lard, and you can taste it in the bread. At Mi Pueblo, they use canola oil, and it makes a difference, and the pastry is a little lighter and fresher. Any time I need dried chiles for sauces or moles, I go there.

Your cafe is open early and closes late. You must be working crazy hours. Any spas or salons you recommend?

We have an on-site masseuse! One of the customers went to Trinity Natural Healers College. He comes in and looks at me and says, "You look really tense, you're lopsided there. You have 10 minutes?" He'll massage my neck, my arms, shoulders, and it's great! Some Monday nights, he'll set up an area and do massages.

That's a nice perk.

It works for me!

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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