clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

One of Boston’s Top Bartenders Is Launching a Cocktail-Inspired Coffee Shop

Cafe Gloria is headed to East Boston

An orange cocktail in a tall glass filled with ice, with sprigs of green garnish on top.
The Gloria cocktail, which will be reinvented as a latte at Isaza’s new cafe.
Courtesy of Will Isaza
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Will Isaza, an acclaimed bartender known for his work helping to launch a slew of top cocktail destinations in Boston, including Blossom Bar and Birds of Paradise, is branching out on his own. The industry vet has announced that he plans to open Cafe Gloria — a coffee shop rooted in Isaza’s Colombian heritage and informed by his bartending career — in East Boston later this year.

The cafe will offer a range of coffee drinks and non-alcoholic cocktails to start, Isaza says. He is partnering with local roastery Broadsheet Coffee to source and roast the beans, which will include a signature roast based on a Colombian coffee bean. On the food side, Isaza will stock the cafe with arepas and South American-inspired rice bowls based on his mom’s recipes.

Isaza plans to outfit the space with an actual coffee bar where people can sit and converse over drinks while watching baristas, in the same way that customers would sit at a cocktail bar.

Given Isaza’s bartending background, he hopes to add alcoholic cocktails in the future if he can get his hands on one of Boston’s astronomically expensive, impossible-to-obtain liquor licenses, he says, but he’s not betting on it. Even without the license, he plans to reinvent one of his most famous cocktails for the cafe. The Gloria is an aged rum-based cocktail made with passionfruit cinnamon cordial, coffee liquor, and mascarpone that won Isaza recognition on national and international stages. At Cafe Gloria, Isaza is converting the drink into a passionfruit cinnamon latte topped with a mascarpone foam.

The cafe will be located in Isaza’s home neighborhood of East Boston, on Maverick Street in Jeffries Point. (Isaza declined to share the exact address until the lease paperwork is officially signed.) It’s an area near Logan where coffee shops are scarce outside of the airport locations of Dunkin’ and Starbucks, and Isaza says he’s seen residents turn to delivery apps to order their coffee from Tatte and other spots in the Seaport.

“It’s always been one of those dreams where you can bring something to the neighborhood that essentially molded what you went on to do for the rest of your life,” Isaza, a lifelong East Boston resident, says.

His family emigrated from Cali, Colombia, in the 1980s, and he grew up and went to high school in the neighborhood. As his career in the bar world took off, he always knew that he wanted to put down business roots in the area, but wanted to make sure that it would meet community needs in a rapidly developing area of the city.

“I don’t want to just impose what I’ve learned, and what I’ve done, to the people here if it doesn’t necessarily make sense,” Isaza says of his desire to provide something the neighborhood needs. “But there’s an opportunity [to fill] this void, a place where you can gather the community, enjoy a great cup of coffee, have some snacks, work from ‘home,’ if you will.”

To launch Cafe Gloria, Isaza is avoiding traditional investors and is raising money via NuMarket, a crowdfunding platform popular with other local restaurants like Judy’s Bay and Mei Mei. Contributors to Cafe Gloria’s fund receive credits to spend at the cafe after it opens. He is aiming to raise $200,000 through the platform, which will cover all of the cafe’s opening costs and, he notes, will better position him to own future projects by leaving him free from being indebted to investors.

If all goes according to plan, Isaza hopes to open the cafe this summer.