Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find answers to questions about the Via Cafe, as well as each of the following offerings: Via Voices, Escuela Amistad, Via Migrante, Beyond Borders Coffee


Q: Who owns and operates the Via Cafe?

A: VIA CAFE is a project of Via International, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable community development, while connecting people across borders in solidarity.  Based in San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, we have extensive networks of trusted relationships in Mexico and Central America.  To learn more visit:

Q: Is the Via Cafe website and shopping cart secure?

A: Yes. All transactions through the Via Cafe are managed through our payment processor, Shopify Store, and are processed according to the highest security standards.


Q: Who organizes the Via Voices interview series?

A: John Fanestil, Executive Director, in collaboration with Elisa Sabatini (President/CEO) and Rigoberto Reyes (Sr. Program Director) at Via International.

Q: When and where do the interviews take place?

A: The Via Cafe is a virtual cafe, and the Via Voices series is designed for an online experience.  We presently convene Via Voices on Tuesdays at 12 noon on the online meeting platform ZOOM. Links for joining the meeting are sent when you add a FREE ticket for the next week’s event to your shopping cart and complete your purchase.

Q: Can I recommend someone to be interviewed as a part of the series?

A: Yes!  Please send an email to John Fanestil ( with the name and title of the person you are recommending along with their contact information and a brief description of why you think they would make for a great Via Voices interview.


Q: Where will the classes be held?

A: Classes for the Escuela Amistad are convened on the online meeting platform ZOOM.  Links for joining the classes are sent when you complete your registration.

Q: Should I enroll if I have never studied Spanish?

A: Classes for beginners (Espanol 101) are scheduled occasionally.  Classes at the 201 level are designed for people who have taken some Spanish language instruction in the past (high school, college, adult), but who have never mastered speaking the language. Classes  at the 301 level are for people who speak the language but want to improve their comfort and fluency.

Q: Is the focus on speaking or writing?

A: The focus of all Escuela Amistad offerings is on speaking the language.  The goal is to help you reach a place of comfort and confidence so that you can begin to build friendships with Spanish speakers in your workplace, neighborhood, travel or mission site.  Research demonstrates convincingly that building relationships with native speakers is the surest way to learn a foreign language.

Q: What is the teaching method and philosophy of the Escuela Amistad?

A: John Fanestil, the founder of the Escuela Amistad, learned to speak French and Spanish using methods of “affective” learning, specifically methods pioneered by the famed language instructor John Rassias. This method emphasizes replicating, rehearsing and repeating real-life language encounters.  The scenarios rehearsed in the Escuela Amistad core curriculum (201 level) are customized around the kinds of encounters that people commonly have with native Spanish speakers in the San Diego/Tijuana region.

Q: How large will the classes be?  What is the teacher:student ratio?

A: Classes will be launched with a minimum of 10 students and will be capped at 20 students.  A typical class would have 12 to 15 students. Small group dynamics are an important part of the curriculum, affording others in the class to learn by “eavesdropping” on smaller groups of their peers.

Q: What is the hourly rate?

A: Each 3-week session offers 12 hours of contact. (All classes are recorded and the recordings made available afterward to students.) The typical tuition is $120 so the hourly rate is $10/hour.

Q: What will I get out of it?

A: The Escuela Amistad will prepare you for language scenarios that you can put into practice in real-life encounters. Graduates of the entire Escuela Amistad curriculum will have made friends with native Spanish speakers, and learned how to make friends with native Spanish speakers. Building relationships with native Spanish speakers will be the key to your becoming an effective Spanish-speaker.

Q: Can I come on the first day or first week to see how I like it?  Can I “audit” a class ?

A: No, the team-building experience is an important part of the curriculum, so sessions are offered only to enrolled students on a trimester (3-week) basis.


Q: Who is providing the meals?

A: Small business caterers in the Via Micro Credit program, currently on hiatus due to the virus,  have stepped up to prepare meals for the shelters.

Q: To what shelters are the meals being provided?

A: At present we are providing a weekly meal to 75 residents at the Juventud 2000 shelter in central Tijuana.  Our goal is to continue this weekly meal through the summer of 2020 and to add a second shelter if funding allows.

Q: What is in the meals?

A: The meals are three courses, with vegetables and a protein accompanied by a fruit/vegetable healthy drink and dessert! They are experienced by shelter residents, who eat mostly staples, as a real treat.


Q: Where does the coffee come from?

A: Women growers of organic coffee in rural Mexico and/or Guatemala.

Q: Who else handles the coffee?

A: Cuppa Jill Coffee, our wholesale partner in Rosarito, Mexico, supports microfinance projects in Baja California, and distributes coffee in the United States through Daymar Artisan Coffee Roasters, based in El Cajon, California.  Both partners are deeply committed to supporting microenterprise, women-led coffee growers in Mexico and Guatemala.

Q: How is the coffee delivered?

A:12 oz bags (up to 2 at a time) are sent in a USPS Flat Rate Envelope. 5 lb bags are delivered in a USPS Medium Flat Rate Box

Q: How long will delivery take?

A:We encourage you to expect delivery in 7 to 10 business days so as not to be disappointed!