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September 17, 2015

Sazón comes to town

Jose and Oswaldo Estrella have brought their hospitality skills half way around the world from Mexico City to South Australia, so bringing their successful café - Sazón Espresso - from Mt Barker to Adelaide's CBD didn't seem like such a big deal.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

Cousins Jose and Oswaldo Estrella have long been passionate about food and coffee, both leaving school to work in kitchens in their home town of Mexico City.


Sazón’s city location can be found at Shop 3, 19 Grenfell Street, Adelaide. They’re open Monday to Thursday from 7am – 4pm and Fridays 7am – late.

When they moved to Australia, they both took up jobs in the local hospitality sector – but after about eight years the pair decided to do something for themselves.

“When we first opened Sazón Espresso in Mt Barker, Oswaldo was cooking and I was the barista,” says Jose. “We opened with just two of us working there and that’s how we managed.”

Adelaide Hills locals warmed quickly to Sazón, with the cafe gaining a reputation for its excellent espresso. Soon after opening, it entered a phase of rapid expansion.

“We did a couple of months just ourselves, and then after a couple of months we got one staff then two staff, and now we have 20 people working just in Mt Barker,” says Oswaldo.

It’s been seven years since the Mt Barker doors first opened, and now – despite the pair still working long hours every week – they’ve taken on a new challenge by opening a second location in the CBD.

“The owner of this building he lives in the Adelaide Hills. He approached us and said he has a spot for us here,” says Jose.

Tucked behind Red Door Bakery, just off Grenfell Street, Sazón is bringing authentic Mexican food to the city lunch (and breakfast) crowd, but is also quickly becoming a new favourite place for early morning coffee runs and caffeinated 3pm meetings.

“People might see this place and think it’s more of a café or restaurant, but coffee is very important to us,” says Jose. “We won best coffee in the Adelaide Hills last year. Basically we’re a Mexican café, and we take pride in the quality of our food and our coffee.”

The pride part of Jose and Oswaldo’s operations are evident. The fit out of the city store glows (literally – there’s neon) with warmth, a contemporary material palette and an attention to detail that speaks of the owners’ close collaboration with designer Samantha Agostino.

Being involved and passionate is something Oswaldo and Jose understand is necessary, no matter how busy or big Sazón gets.

“We believe if you have a business you have to be there,” says Oswaldo. “You can have really good staff, but it’s always good for the owners to be there. It’s a different approach.”

And it’s an approach you can taste in the authenticity and quality of Sazón’s food and coffee.



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