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Immigrants from South America open coffee businesses together

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 12, 2021

SEMINOLE, Fla. — From South America to Pinellas County, it’s been quite the journey for a couple of friends who love coffee so much they decided to open their own shop.

The owners of Southie Coffee say Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on how far they’ve come and to remember those who helped pave the way.

Bella Rincon and Steven Gonzalez aren’t just making a cup of Joe, they’re brewing the American Dream.

“My family is very proud of me and I’m happy to make them proud,” said Gonzalez.

“My number one inspiration has always been my father,” said Rincon.

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Bella and Steven both immigrated to California from South America with their families when they were eight and nine years old. Bella is from Venezuela and Steven is from Argentina.

“Kind of difficult for me when I was a kid, I didn’t speak English, I got bullied my first year,” said Rincon.

“We both had the same challenges,” said Gonzalez.

The two of them didn’t meet until they were adults, living in Tampa Bay, working in cafes, pursuing the same life plan to open their own coffee shop.

“We put up that goal and to reach that goal together,” said Gonzalez.

In 2018 they opened Southie Coffee in Clearwater and in 2019 expanded to a second location in Seminole.

“Well obviously my favorite part of the job is that I do what I like which a lot of people can’t say that,” said Gonzalez.

“I loved the environment and I loved the coffee and how it brought people together,” said Rincon.

When Bella and Steven aren’t serving their customers, they are serving their community, holding events with everyone from elementary school students to police officers.

“I could give back which I feel like is one of the things that makes me the happiest,” said Rincon.

Southie Coffee really embraces their South American roots using recipes passed down from their grandparents like their famous empanadas.

“Even though I’m far away from what I used to call home my roots are still there I wanted to bring the Latin flavor into the food,” said Rincon.

Bella and Steven hope to leave a positive legacy for the next generation of Hispanic business owners.

“I do want to inspire other people, I love empowering other women, other minority groups, or non-minority groups, it's huge to have that mentorship next to you,” said Rincon.