Cafecito Espiritual, a Grove-inspired love story

cafecito espiritual men coffee smiling coconut grove
Jose Ibañez, left and Carlos Anaya, right of Cafecito Espiritual at The Bazaar Project in Coconut Grove, September 2021. (Kevin Arrieta/VACO)

Cafecito Espiritual was born in Peacock Park.

Seven years ago, while meditating at dawn in Peacock Park, Carlos Anaya heard an inner voice: “Your platform will be called cafecito espiritual and it will touch the hearts of millions.”

His intuition was spot-on. Miami’s love for coffee and coffee breaks was abundantly satisfied. But what Miami really needed — mainstream programming about yoga and spirituality — was hard to come by.

And so Anaya’s “heartchild,” the spiritual coffee break, was born.

A wellness and lifestyle media agency, Cafecito Espiritual draws from Anaya’s experience as a Kundalini yoga teacher and journalist, delivering motivational content on local and national platforms. Anaya, along with his husband Jose Ibañez — also a teacher — are passionate about bringing spiritually-based solutions to everyday problems ranging from managing stress to dealing with difficult people. An award-winning weekly segment on the Spanish-language national network Univision called Vitamina Para El Alma (Vitamin for the Soul) fulfills that vision sparked in Peacock Park — it touches millions.

Love beyond the yoga mat

Cafecito Espiritual is also a story about two loving spouses, their love for humanity and the place they call home — Coconut Grove.

Anaya and Ibañez met for the first time in 2011 at the Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebration in New Mexico, an annual gathering of Kundalini yogis who practice breathing techniques, postures, chanting, meditation and vegetarianism to develop conscious awareness. The mind, body and soul connection helps practitioners maintain a sense of peace and joy.

The Kundalini journeys for Anaya and Ibañez, however, began years prior in two different continents.

Colombia born and New Jersey raised, Anaya discovered Kundalini in his 20s working as a journalist in New York City’s West Village. “I was coming out of the closet,” he says. “I didn’t think yoga would make my work spiritual. But later I became a conscious journalist. I wanted to uplift the Hispanic community.”

Ibañez also came to Kundalini in his 20s as an undergraduate in Argentina. “I was an intellectual, a rebellious gay rights activist,” he says. “But I later realized I had to change myself in order to change the world. Change is internal.”

Ibañez’s awakening journey led him to Brazil, where he opened a yoga school, and later to India — “the spiritual mecca” — to study Ayurveda and massage therapy. “Ayurveda is an ancient medicinal practice,” he says. “It’s more about preventing disease. While in India, I received herbal treatments myself, and deepened my knowledge.”

Finding a spiritual home in Coconut Grove

Anaya and Ibañez met for the second time at Sadhana in 2014 where they made a love connection and decided to settle together in Coconut Grove. Both of them already knew Miami, and were attracted to the Grove’s natural beauty.

“Who’s not going to fall in love with the Grove? Its gardens? Its trees?” Anaya asks. “I found a spiritual, physical and emotional home. A small town in a metropolitan area.”

Ibañez says the last few years in the Grove have been some of the best years of his life. While he recognizes its Bohemian character, he also sees the village as holistic. “I wasn’t looking for a hectic, fast-paced workaholic life doing something I don’t love,” he says. “The Grove inspires wellness.”

Anaya agrees.

“People are becoming more aware of the choices we make in our bodies and minds,” he says. “There’s a sense of awakening. The Grove brings us closer to nature and lets us be Zen. It’s easier to relax here. To travel within.”

The couple works together, doing what they love and sharing what they love with the Latino demographic, the LGBTQIA community and beyond.

“Carlos is a natural connector in media,” says Ibañez, who focuses more on developing programs for the brand, including corporate wellness. Ibañez also teaches privately, and works with Miami’s Trauma Resolution Center.

Cafecito Espiritual brought hope during tough times

pool yoga pandemic social distance cafecito espiritual
Cafecito Espiritual teaching socially-distanced “condominium yoga” during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Coconut Grove, April 2020. (Screenshot from Primer Impacto, Univision/Courtesy of Carlos Anaya)

During the first few anxiety-riddled weeks of the Covid pandemic lockdown, Anaya and Ibañez offered free, socially-distanced “condominium yoga” sessions in the building’s courtyard. Free classes for neighbors during lockdown sparked hope in a time of uncertainty and isolation.

Today, over a year and half since the first lockdown, the need for spiritual centering is even greater. “In this pandemic, if you don’t have emotional intelligence to cope with anxiety, you’re out of the loop” Anaya says.

Compassion, coffee and a place to love

Anaya and Ibañez really do love their coffee and enjoy the variety of cafes in the Grove, which remind the former of his native Buenos Aires.

“I love the neighborhood and its personality, everyone’s receptivity,” he says. “While it’s neither completely gay nor Latin, we bring that diversity to the Grove. The simple act of holding hands with my husband in public means we’re bringing about change.”

For Anaya, the Grove’s diversity and inclusiveness align well with the sutras (tenets) he lives by: “Recognize that the other is you,” he says. “Also, understand through compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.”

Cafecito Espiritual – Carlos Anaya

What is your passion?
We love what we do! Before we do business, we love people. That’s our core value.

What do you love most about the Grove?
That everyday offers a new possibility. In seven years, we have created something amazing — a diamond in the rough. It still needs to be polished, but the future’s so bright, it burns my eyes!

What makes the heart of the Grove beat?
It fills me with wonder. Every street is a new page, every corner has a new story to tell, every direction has a love story to be told or written.

What is your superpower?
I am what I need and what I need, I am. That’s another sutra.

Cafecito Espiritual – Jose Ibañez

What is your passion?
To foster peace and harmony wherever I am through conversation and by teaching practical techniques. To offer serenity in times of chaos and uncertainty.

What do you love most about the Grove?
I love how green and walkable it is. I love the streets. Social life being so out in the open. I also love that most buildings are low-rise.

What makes the heart of the Grove beat?
It’s all about the green canopy and the soothing shade it gives to pedestrians. It’s about nature and its vitality. The easygoing vibe. It almost feels like a luxury because the rest of Miami is such a car city.

What is your superpower?
Trusting God. Trusting in a divine order of things. I can almost become invisible. I’m not the director of the film. Someone else is taking care of the scene.

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