By Abraham Jauregui
It is located on Firestone Boulevard, nestled between the South Gate Educational Center and the 710 freeway.
This clean and distinctive coffee house presents an appealing feeling while walking inside.
With its comfortable furniture, Tierra Mia offers the laid-back environment great for any East Los Angeles College student commuting to, or simply attending, South Gate Campus.
Owner Ulysses Romero wants his customers to experience Tierra Mia to its fullest.
“We try to mix two things,” said Romero “[Latin American] traditional and authentic music and contemporary decor.
The Inspirations come from the Latino kitchens we all grew up in, fused that with great quality coffee.”
Being unfamiliar with Latin American based coffee brews is an obstacle for anyone.
However, the friendly staff did not hesitate to answer every question about taste and preparation that goes into making the coffee on their menu.
After ordering the two most popular drinks, Chocolate Mexicano Frappe and the vanilla latte, it is clear why Tierra Mia is quickly gaining popularity in South Gate and its surrounding cities.
The Chocolate Mexicano Frappe is a mixture of classic Mexican hot chocolate and caffeine served iced.
There’s a sweet taste, but also a sense of refreshment, not often found with heavy chocolate drinks.
The vanilla latte, served warm, includes vanilla, steamed milk, and a shot from the espresso machine.
The latte offered a rich and sweet taste that relaxed tensed senses, which come from being a full-time student.
Making the latte takes a skilled barista.
“Steaming correctly, which refers to temperature and texture, and pouring techniques,” said Romero about the lattes’ preparation process.
His baristas must take training and receive a certificate before they can prepare these elaborate lattes.
Tierra Mia offers an abundance of Latin American based coffees, as well as pastries.
They offer an horchata frappe, which is a rice and cinnamon based drink with coffee, Coco Loco, a mixture of coconut flakes and coffee, and many other brews with strong Latin American influences.
Tierra Mia also has four season rotations of distinct coffee brews throughout different coffee bean agricultural periods.
During this season they have Chirinos, a Peruvian drink with a white grape and honey taste, Minas Gerais, a Brazilian drink with a taste of dark fudge, roasted nuts and dried orange, and Yiracheffe, an Ethiopian drink with a taste of grape juice, raspberry and brown sugar.
Yiracheffe comes with a relaxed and soothing taste, very distinct and similar to a tea drink.
The pastries offered at Tierra Mia are a reason alone to visit.
Delivered daily from the famous Porto’s Bakery, it is a great way to taste these pastries without having to wait in long lines; as it is often the case at the bakery.
Strawberry cheese danishes, guava cheesecakes, and chocolate chip and banana muffins are just some of the delicacies found at Tierra Mia.
When an employee asks if you would like to have it warmed up, it is recommended because it brings out a better taste.
Compared to other coffee houses’ prices, Tierra Mia is about the same.
The difference Tierra Mia has over most franchised coffee houses is the taste of quality.
Preoccupied with the “drive-thru” mentality, large franchises result in skipping out on their products.
Tierra Mia steers away from that and is a substitute to ELAC students looking for a place to relax and study during their day.
“We focus on quality… for customers, that term is almost a cliché… if somebody comes in, we want them to say this is the best coffee.
“I try to go beyond what the chain stores do in terms of their product quality,” said Romero who strives to please his customers.
If that is not tempting enough, then Tierra Mia changes in atmosphere from daytime to nighttime.
Daytime offers casualness, and peaceful quiet.
During nighttime, it transforms into a vibrant, alive atmosphere with plenty of people socializing; making it great for ELAC students to come and enjoy a coffee.
Tierra Mia first opened in South Gate in 2008, its first location, and with the drive of its owner, now has openings in surrounding cities such as Huntington Park and Santa Fe Springs.
Overly hyped restaurants should not be succumbed to, but after visiting Tierra Mia, fellow Elans will enjoy themselves.