Café Dulcet by Chiquis Barrón Chiquis Barrón
reviewed by Carolyn davis
"Coffee and people are similar in many ways. Both are influenced by several factors.... While some start to burn or char, others just begin to manifest their wonderfully unique and complex flavors."
Coffee is the bonding substance and metaphor throughout this bracing tale of Ximena Ferrer, called Nena, and the people and events of her life. The author's Web page states, "Café Dulcet is an engaging and insightful story that delves into the fundamental aspects of life which shape people's existence and ultimately give them their flavor and purpose."
The town of Nogales at the border between Arizona and Mexico provides the setting. Throughout Nena's adventures, processes of coffee development and preparation are used in comparison to those that the humans undergo. Examples include, the quality of a bean, the intensity and duration of the roasting process, and how much either a human or a coffee bean can and should stand to become as developed and flavorful as possible. All of this contributes to the characters' as well as the reader's savoring of experiences and appreciating the dulcet of the café. Delicious metaphors abound as the reader drinks in the story and the memorable people—among them, the café owner and philosopher Doňa Pilar, the already "charred" girl, Ramona, a politician, friend, and lover of Nena's named Alex, Nena's longtime friend, Sasha—these and many others are the human "beans" of the story. Their stories unfurl amid numerous lessons in the types, maturation levels, and the proper as well as the improper treatment of a variety of beans. All of the coffee references might become tiresome, but in Barrón's hands the story is sumptuous.
Read this with your beverage of choice.