Mario Abrego: Building an empire on coffee

Marioabrego

Courtesy of Mario Abrego

Mario Abrego enjoying the beautiful San Francisco skyline.

Jesus Alduenda, Staff Writer

The school bell rang at 2:50 p.m. and a few friends and I meet up after school to film a video at a hole-in-the-wall shopping center in Downey.

After walking two miles to the location, thirsty and sweating due to the hot day, we were greeted by a nice blue storefront we have never seen before that was squeezed between a car detailing business and an insurance office.

“Workps coffee+cowork,” the building was basically screaming at us to come in. While we crept closer to the front door, strange plants and subtle chatter from the surrounding stores welcomed us.

Once inside, the slight breeze from the air conditioner brushed our faces and the white interior and relaxed atmosphere were nothing like we have ever seen anywhere in Downey.

The employee behind the coffee bar greeted us, “Hello! Thank you for stopping by, would you guys like anything?”

All of us sort of talking over each other responded, “This place is super cool, what is this?”

The employee said, “Oh I just opened up shop about a week ago, you guys are my first customers.”

After talking for a bit, we got to know him a little and his name is Mario Abrego.

He was mentored by professional coffee brewers in a worldwide competition in Italy and graduated from UC Irvine, and that was just what we got from a short talk.

Abrego ended up making us a few coffees as a thank-you for stopping by and talking.

Later, Abrego broke down the process it took to make his coffee after a few weeks of frequenting Workps.

Abrego’s family was related to a six-generation coffee farm in El Salvador that grows very high-quality beans with a rich, fruity and tropical flavor.

He orders around 100 pounds of raw beans every month directly from El Salvador. Then he goes through a tedious process to roast the beans in his house pulling out the flavors cultivated through generations.

Workps turned into a hotspot for small business owners renting out the space to host pop-up shops and flea markets building an audience through great people and great coffee.

Mario Abrego, 25, born in El Salvador was raised in a fairly nice family.

Surrounded by the culture of El Salvador, he found his love for coffee at a young age. When Abrego and his family moved to Downey, CA. He went to Downey High School growing a relationship with the city.

After he graduated, Abrego enrolled and finished college at UC Irvine, ranked among the best universities in the nation.

Abrego eventually ended up in Italy under the wings of professional coffee brewers to perfect his craft. He learned how to make world-class coffee before opening his first brick-and-mortar location at 24.

Not only was Workps his first business, but it was also his first job as a barista ever.

You can never learn enough. Mario took this heart by visiting hundreds of coffee shops, befriending the owners, pulling inspiration and constantly learning about new flavors and styles.

His favorite coffee shops are Nook coffee in Costa Mesa, White Sparrow in Santa Ana and Hopper & Burr, also in Santa Ana. Mario grew close to these coffee shops developing relationships with them.