Maxine Cofino (B.A., ’10) and Desiree Muñoz opened The Lemon Girls at a San Antonio farmers market in March 2021, selling refreshing beverages made with fresh-squeezed, locally sourced lemons, limes, grapefruit, and passion fruit. It was an immediate success.

“As the popularity of farmers markets grew during the pandemic because they are safe, held outside, and deemed ‘essential,’ we were able to get established and keep growing,” Cofino said.

CSU roots

Cofino’s family moved from Puerto Rico to Colorado Springs in 2002. Cofino attended Air Academy High School. One summer, she attended the National Hispanic Institute’s Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, which Colorado State University has hosted on campus for more than 35 years. At the weeklong conference, students engage in a mock legislative process and judicial hearings to examine the challenges faced in Hispanic communities.

Following the conference, Cofino was awarded an NHI college scholarship.

The first-generation student speaks highly of the influence of Mary Ontiveros (B.S., ’73; M.Ed., ’79), former vice president for diversity, and Varo Maldonado, associate director in CSU’s Office of Admissions, on her decision to study political science at Colorado State.

Seizing opportunities

Cofino joined Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc., where she regularly helped with the cooking and volunteered at the Food Bank for Larimer County.

“Seeing the level of food insecurity in a place like Fort Collins really affected me and the way I view farm production and distribution,” she said.

After graduation, Cofino had planned to become a political speechwriter.

Instead, she eventually moved back to Puerto Rico where she met and married her first wife, who was in the military and later stationed at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas.

“Seeing the level of food insecurity in a place like Fort Collins really affected me and the way I view farm production and distribution.”

–Maxine Cofino

A fresh idea

After her marriage ended in 2019, Cofino met Muñoz, a San Antonio native. She encouraged Cofino to combine her passion for food with her entrepreneurial ideas. It took about six months to figure out the recipes, determine sources for local produce, purchase a stand, and get all the permits, but The Lemon Girls all came together in March 2021.

On March 20, 2022, Cofino and Muñoz married in a ceremony officiated by U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro. The weather was beautiful, and the couple couldn’t be happier sharing life and a business together. They recently expanded to two more area farmers markets and are now looking for a brick-and-mortar location.