You are here

Denise Maldonado ‘16


Tell us a little about yourself

I was born and raised in Lynwood, CA. Not too far from Long Beach. I graduated from CSULB in 2016 with my degree in Chicano & Latino Studies with the intention of going into the counseling field.

For fun, I like to visit coffee shops and I try to stay active. I have two cats named Henry and Sofia and they are great.

What are you doing professionally?

I am co-owner of Confidential Coffee in Downtown Long Beach.

What steps did you take toward self-employment?

Since I didn’t plan on owning a coffee shop so early on in life, the decision was sort of spontaneous. My plan was to finish a fellowship that I landed right after college, go to grad school, then work on getting students to college.

Eight months into the start of my planned career, the opportunity to open the shop came up and after sleepless nights of deliberation, I quit my job and went all in. Thankfully, I had 8 years of coffee experience under my belt by then so I knew exactly who to talk to in order to get my business up and running.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

When I see the satisfaction in a customer’s face.

I love what I do. My goal is to make sure people know that there is so much love in each cup of coffee I produce. When people notice that, I get reminded why I do what I do. It’s a very rewarding and heart-warming experience.

Did you envision doing this kind of work while enrolled at CSULB?

Yes, but not so soon. I’ve been a barista and a manager in the coffee world for almost 10 years now. I’ve always loved coffee. I always dreamed of owning a coffee shop one day. For me, that was way later in the future; After I pursued my career, accomplished some other goals, and was settled down. However, Confidential Coffee became a reality way faster than I had expected and I am grateful for that.

What was the biggest transition for life after graduation?

I think the biggest transition was really feeling the pressure to go out in life and get that “adult job,” that we’re “supposed” to find after college.

I did end up getting that job, but the whole experience was a challenge as well. I wasn’t very happy being behind a computer screen. I missed interacting with people and I missed the art of coffee on a daily basis.

What was the most useful skill or experience that you gathered from college?

Becoming more culturally aware is definitely something I learned in college and something that has helped shape who I am today.

Learning about my community and the people around me has helped me understand and find solutions for situations that have occurred, especially in a place where I interact with people every day, all day.

Why did become a CSULB Alumni member?

I wanted to stay in the loop with things. I loved my time at Cal State Long Beach. I met some amazing and inspiring people. I hope to one day inspire people, too.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Definitely expanding my business. I want to open up a coffee training lab and give people the experience they need in order to jump into the specialty coffee world.

I want to become more involved in my community and have a name established for myself and my business. I want to succeed.

Any advice for the Class of 2019?

Follow your dreams. Take risks. It’s the most terrifying thing in the world but it is AMAZING.