Living and working in San Jose, establishing a lifestyle and adjusting to the fast paced environment has been a challenge at times. I’d heard a lot of things about the capital before moving here from the Pacific coast. For example the dangers, the traffic and the industrial feel of the place. In many ways it has lived up to this reputation, it can be dangerous, just like any major metropolitan area. You have to be sensible, and take caution, but these worries have not tainted my ambition to explore and enjoy myself whilst here. San Jose is filled with amazing little places just waiting to be found. There is still plenty to do and see in the capital, you just have to look a little harder.
I have been working a lot recently, and looking back I spent too much time trying to force new experiences and meet new people here. I can say at this point, my priorities are in order, I have found a good balance between work and exploring. I have rekindled a passion for writing, telling both my story and the stories of others here in Costa Rica. Something which I know I have failed to do over the last month. I have been searching for a place I can write, not cooped up in my apartment, but somewhere I can relax and enjoy some time to simply write. It pleases me to say I have now found this place.
It’s a pleasure to tell you about the owner of a new Coffee shop I stumbled upon on Instagram. I wanted to do an interview with the owner, and what started out as a list of questions I had prepared for him, quickly digressed into a genuine conversation of life and passion. Below you can find out more about Mariano, and the jump he made from completing his Biology PHD in New York City, to opening up his own Coffee/ Waffle house in San Jose.
Chinchillente: a place where people feel at home
Mariano Soley lived in NYC for six years working on his PHD in Biology before moving back to Costa Rica to open up his own unique Coffee Shop. An idea he fantasized about for three years, quickly became a reality when he stopped dreaming about it, and began to put his idea into motion. It took just one year upon his return to Costa Rica until he opened his doors, now in business for three months, he has lots of ideas for the future. Passion is what drove Mariano to create such a welcoming and authentic place. Currently under the radar of most, I believe this place will soon become the place to be, located just off the main strip in Barrio Escalente, it won’t be long before people are talking about the establishment and visiting for themselves.
This is a unique project that reflects Mariano’s personality and interests. Something which became more apparent to me as we began to chat, about life, politics and his country. He wanted to establish a place which closed the gap between the coffee shop and the bar and intertwine them. A place where people can have a few drinks and socialize, or study and enjoy a coffee with some wonderful food. His passion for coffee is rich, as he explains – to knowledge above my understanding – the different varieties of coffees and blends he offers. Describing the tastes and work which has gone into every cup of coffee so beautifully, it made my experience ever more personal and enjoyable.
People have a hard time innovating in Costa Rica, but here we find a place where somebody is not scared of going against the grain or trying to offer something new. He does not want to just follow influence because something is popular or cool, but because he genuinely wants to create something special, both culturally and personally.
I love coffee, when I have a difficult day ahead, and knowing I have a coffee coming is my favorite time of day. But if I am in a rush in the morning, I won’t have a coffee, I like it to wake me up in the morning, but I need to enjoy it, and not rush the experience.
When did your passion for Coffee first become evident to you?
When I was 23, I worked on guided tours whilst in University and my co-workers would all get together during the Coffee Break. It was the experience socially, which really began my love for Coffee, sharing moments with people.
Well, that’s interesting because I knew from an early stage, I already had coffee and beer nailed. It wasn’t until a couple of months before I opened I decided on waffles. I wasn’t interested in sandwiches, and many people already offered this. Also, nobody has beer and waffles, so that is when I came up with the idea of introducing savory waffles.
How much did New York have an influence?
It certainly had influence, I had visited a few Belgium waffle places in Manhattan. I wanted to incorporate that experience into Costa Rica, I think that, we are one of the only places that offers savory waffles in Costa Rica.
There is influence from America, and this is the case here in Costa Rica currently. But I wanted a local name, we can perceive cultures through our own culture and perspective. I don’t care about being that cool place or following the American influence solely for that reason.
This is a new experience and I realize you are still establishing the soul of the place, but what do you see for the future of Chinchillente?
I want to, and I have already begun a little running event, holding community and cultural meetings and events. I want it to be a community and cultural place, where people can socialize and share ideas.
I also want to sell coffee beans and give the customer the option of grinding their own beans, this is something I am in a position to do now, but it’s just raising awareness about it.
Chinchillente oozes simplicity yet has so many interesting aspects to the place. By creating somewhere so deeply rooted in his own personality and love for something, he has created a special genuine place. Simplicity at its core, but so many intertwining aspects give the place depth. From the books you can read, and library aspect, to the micro beers on offer, innovative home blends of coffee, delicious offerings of savory and sweet waffles and all round authentic welcoming positive vibe. A space to spend time alone or with friends, to study, relax or blow off steam. This place is everything I have been searching for in Costa Rica.
This marks a new chapter for me and beyondthepalms, speaking with Mariano inspired me and reminded me of how much I enjoy hearing and telling other people’s stories. Everybody has a story, and his is one of following a passion. I hope to tell many more stories here in Costa Rica, with a new feature coming each week. I am on a mission to find the most fascinating cultural places and stories in Costa Rica. With no agenda, but sharing the stories about the people behind some of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
Finally, Mariano had this to say about his country when I asked him about his thoughts and feelings towards his home.
We are a country with a lot of promise, but still have a long way to go. I like that you can access so many different climates and places, from a biological perspective especially. Usually in rural places, people are very welcoming, are hardworking and appreciate life, whereas the city is quite chaotic today. It’s crazy how fast this has happened, the economic and social divide was huge, people were comfortable with having less, but today we have a huge middle class. I think this is a good thing in the long run, people are more educated, but also a lot more influenced by the media. The city is a totally different environment to most of Costa Rica. The city certainly has problems today, and I think one of the only ways we can improve this is through culture.