#Shopsmall: Meet Richard Agudelo owner of Terremoto Coffee
November 19, 2020
During the month of November we’re highlighting small business owners in the neighborhood to encourage you to #shopsmall on Saturday, November 28th and always. For our next business, we’re highlighting Richard Agudelo, owner of Terremoto Coffee on Fifteenth Street. Terremoto Coffee is a neighborhood favorite for unique coffee in a friendly, cozy atmosphere. During Covid-19, Terremoto has become a lively home for well known jazz musicians to play on the weekends at the cafe’s sidewalk stage. With Richard’s background in the music industry, the combination of music and coffee was a match made in heaven. Read more about Richard below and be sure to stop by the shop when you need a caffeine boost or just a friendly, mask covered, face.
What’s your background and how’d you end up in Meatpacking?
I started my career as a concert photographer in the music industry, grew into portrait and advertising work. But always kept very close to the music industry.
What influenced you to open Terremoto Coffee?
I was taking a break from shooting and the current Terremoto spot I rented as an office and equipment storage. While sitting in the space, I came up with the idea to make a specialty coffee shop offering the most unique coffees available prepared to exacting standards.
Why did you choose the word “Terremoto”, which translates to earthquake in Spanish, when naming your coffee shop?
A bit of a double meaning. It means earthquake in Spanish, Italian, & Portuguese. And I took it for coffee, as coffee is suppose to shake you and wake you up. If you ever been through an earthquake, the body adapts immediately to that fight or flight instinct ingrained in us. It was also my nickname by an uncle when I was a kid visiting Colombia. When I arrived to his house, he would always say “Llego el Terremoto”, a high translates to “the earthquake arrived”. I recently learned it translates to SELF in Japanese. Which is supper cool accident.
What’s your favorite thing about being a small business owner?
The community. Really building a community, knowing your neighbor is your communities customers. With the new jazz weekends, seeing what a sense of relief and community we have built. It’s been really rewarding.
As a small business, how do you stand out from major coffee shops?
There is not shop in the City, that on any given day can pull five different coffees however you want it prepared. We also, seasonally offer some of the most exotic coffees available from the second most expensive coffee to sell at auction from the grand Elida Estates in Panama to Gesha Village in Ethiopia and the renowned La Palma El Tuscan in Colombia with their Hero lots. Also, we try to offer a bit of old NYC when you come here. Our tables, bench and condiment station are made from recycled wood from the dance floor at Roseland Ballroom. Our wood floor is made from the recycled beams of the Domino Sugar factory. I hope to be here for 20-30 years as a welcome oasis of great coffee in NYC. I look to places that remained open that brought me so much joy when I got here. Places like Lucky Strike, Mexican Radio, Cafe Select, Little Branch, Tortilla Flats, Joe’s Pizza, and August to name a few that I look back at so fondly for great food, great drinks and great experiences. Much of what makes NYC great!
You’ve been putting on “Jazz Weekends” outside the shop the past few months. Can you tell us a bit more about this and why you decided to start these performances?
I’ve been friends with many of the musicians for years and when the City shutdown we were just communicating online. When the City opened back up to outdoor dining, a dear friend Benny Benack III invited me to his local hang. I saw what they were doing, I had all this new outdoor seating, and a little patch of Astroturf my friend Kate Newell gifted me when she moved back to London. I spoke with Benny and asked if he wanted to come hang one Saturday. He couldn’t do it as he was heading back to Pittsburgh, but he introduced me to Alexander Claffy and Stacy Dillard who ran it the first weekend, and the first day was a roaring success. It started to get a reputation amongst the Jazz luminaries and then I put my producer hat on and started booking some of the best. It all culminated in the weekend we had George Coleman and Victor Lewis come out to do two sets. The entirety of the jazz community came out to witness. I couldn’t have planned or imagined how this would grow, to the point I am now opening a small Jazz club at LouLou French Bistro in Chelsea. It all happened organically. Which is the best, it was a natural progression of the passion for coffee and the music.
Favorite item on the Terremoto menu?
I am an espresso drinker…. if i need to milk it a bit, I will order an oat milk cappuccino. A customer favorite is the Terremoto Latte which is a Colombian Caramel latte. The Colombia caramel is called Arequipe and it is from my aunt’s recipe. The other fan favorites are our Space Oddity and Purple Rain lattes. The year we opened Terremoto, both David Bowie and Prince had passed away. Both artists I worked with, and am a HUGE fan of. We make all our syrups in house The Space Oddity is rose syrup and the Purple Rain is lavender syrup.