By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Feature Editor
Is she the community mom, or a community therapist? Is she a community leader or a business owner? Her customers aren’t sure which title suits her best, but they do love her coffee bar.
She is Dawn Henderson and she’s a little bit high on caffeine as the owner of Mugshots Coffee Bar in Santa Fe.
“Dawn is amazing with everyone that comes in here. For us regulars we are like a family. We drop our kids off at school and stop in here just to hang out,” said customer Mike Rodriguez, who also owns a barber shop just down the road from Mugshots.
“She’s like a mother to everyone,” added John Walker, another customer.
One thing is for sure: Henderson doesn’t have time to stand still for someone to get her mugshot. She’s either busy making a Frappe, tending to the bookkeeping, chatting with customers, calling home to check on her 10-year-old twin boys or checking in with her barista’s car loan process.
Her original career (selling real estate just wasn’t her cup of tea) helped her realized she’s more a coffee kind of gal. “I was making a six-figure income living in South Shore Harbor and I just wanted a lifestyle that was closer to the earth for my sons and myself,” said Henderson.
“I still sell some real estate,” she added.
Grand opening for Mugshots was May 11, 2019. Since then Henderson has become a welcome part of the community. She was recently voted onto the board of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. With her two boys keeping her busy at school and extracurricular events, she is the one who supplies the beverages for many community gatherings.
Mugshots isn’t just about the owner, it’s about all the people who come in and enjoy the setting of a community gathering place with someone who knows their name and makes their drink just the way they want it made.
“The coffee is delicious, but we definitely come here for the atmosphere and everyone is super helpful,” were the comments of two customers who were graduates from Santa Fe High School.
Frankie Galindo, visiting from Austin and a Santa Fe High School alum, added to the chorus: “It’s super crazy here, I just love this place.”
But what about the coffee? Well, you can get just about anything you want at Mugshots. If you come in talking about a drink you had at another shop, Henderson or her staff will try and duplicate the flavor, but they will add a little something to it to make the drink a bit unique.
They’ve had some customers whose personal recipes became so popular the drinks bear their name. Now anyone can order a Kat’s Frappe or an Addies’ Spiced Carmel Apple Cider.
Working as a barista at Mugshots is another happy experience. “I just love it,” Paola Betancourt proclaimed with a huge smile. She is 22 years old and plans to go to College of the Mainland. With her boss’s nurturing oversight, she is sure to be able to accomplish her goals.
Mugshots has been doing well, reports Henderson, but as she said, “I’m not getting rich from the coffee bar.” What she is gaining in exchange for not getting rich is a sense of family and community for herself, her sons and everyone around her.
“People make me happy,” said Henderson. She loves her new community in Santa Fe and has no plans to move. What she wants for the future of Mugshots is a place with a patio and a drive thru.
For now, customers have a choice of curbside service, take out, or enjoying some community time just hanging out at Mugshots Coffee Bar.