Sabores Handcrafted Ice Cream: Serving Up Crowdsourced Flavors in Coachella

3 min
Jesse Garcia Jr., co-owner of Sabores Handcrafted Ice Cream in Coachella, holds a mangonada, a new item at his shop. (Courtesy of Bryan Mendez/Coachella Unincorporated)

Sabores Handcrafted Ice Cream is an oasis in the desert.

The goal of Sabores is to make community members feel right at home. That’s why at Sabores, flavors like mangonada and gansito are just as common as strawberry or vanilla. The ice cream shop is located in an unassuming plaza in Coachella next to a Zumba dance studio.

In January 2017, Jesse Garcia Jr. and his sister Connie Garcia-Preciado, both Coachella Valley locals, combined their skills in culinary arts and business to open the ice cream shop in Coachella.

Garcia’s parents first migrated to the Coachella Valley in the '60s from Michoacán, Mexico to work in the fields. Garcia said he spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching and helping his mom and aunts cook. Over time, he started preparing his own dishes.

Sabores recently added several new items to their menu, including escamochas. (Courtesy of Bryan Mendez/Coachella Unincorporated)

"My parents worked in the fields so they would not get home until like eight or nine o’clock in the night,” Garcia said. "My sisters are a couple years older than me, so they were out to college. I had to cook my own food at home [while I was in] junior high and high school. So from there is where I started picking up [cooking]. I really liked it."

After graduating from Coachella Valley High School, Garcia went to Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) school, but after six years working as an EMT, he switched gears and decided to pursue his true passion in the culinary arts.

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Garcia attended Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, where he had an opportunity to complete his externship in Paris. After graduating from culinary arts school, Garcia worked in several professional kitchens for a couple of years before he and his sister decided to open up Sabores.

Although Garcia and his sister knew they would be taking a risk opening a local business, their desire to see a locally owned ice cream shop encouraged them to keep pushing forward with their dream.

The new mangonada fruit drink has quickly become one of Sabores’ most popular menu items. (Courtesy of Bryan Mendez/Coachella Unincorporated)

"More than anything, what it takes is a lot of help from not only your family but your community. You need a lot of help from them. It’s very difficult to do it on your own,” Garcia said. “Whether it’s family, community, loans or grants, look for them. They’re out there.”

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Garcia said he prides himself on making ice cream from scratch with natural ingredients for the community. Sabores promises to evolve to offer new flavors that the community wants to try because, for Garcia, the most rewarding part of his job is seeing customers happy with his hand-crafted ice cream.

"Through our community, our customers, that’s how we come up with our revolving flavors. They’ll come over and say, ‘Can you make this kind of ice cream?’ And I look at it and think, ‘Can I make an ice cream out of that? Is that possible?’” Garcia said. “It is a lot of hard work from beginning to end. When they give you that sincere smile and look that they’re happy with that product, that’s what makes it all worth it and that’s the best part.”

The top three requested flavors of the summer have been shaved ice scoops of mangonada, lemon and sandía enchilada and year round, the most popular flavors have been strawberry, peach and mango. This month, Sabores also introduced new items to their menu, including a mangonada fruit drink and escamocha.

This story was originally published by Coachella Unincorporated.

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