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How It All Began

Oct 15 2014
How It All Began

Cienfuegos Photo

Hello, new blog friends! With the exciting launch of our beautiful new website, I’d like to take this first opportunity to tell you how our love of coffee started. My name is Leonor Gaviña-Valls, and I am part of the third generation of my family's coffee business.

Our love for coffee began in the 1870’s when our grandfather José María and his brother Ramón Gaviña left the Basque region of Spain in search of a fresh start across the Atlantic Ocean. They settled in the fertile mountains of Southern Cuba and founded Hacienda Buenos Aires, where they planted coffee. This is where my father, Francisco Gaviña, was born and became an expert at growing and roasting coffee. I grew up close to Hacienda Buenos Aires in the city of Cienfuegos, Cuba with my three older brothers, Paco, Pedro, and José. 

In 1932, Don Francisco opened the first Gaviña roasting facility in Cienfuegos, Cuba. He managed both the coffee estate and the roaster where the best espresso in all of Cuba was roasted. One of our coffee house customers bought 60 lbs. of espresso a week, which was a lot at that time! For two generations our family perfected the process of growing and roasting coffee in Cuba before the Communist revolution, during which the new government claimed our business and land. With nothing left and no place for us in Cuba, our family left everything behind in search of freedom and the opportunity to start over.

In 1963, our family settled in Los Angeles, California with nothing but knowledge about coffee and a dream about regaining what was once lost. During the first four years in America, our family worked tirelessly in odd jobs that included bussing tables at restaurants in order to build up enough money to make that dream come true.

In 1967, our family leased a small warehouse in Vernon, CA and opened the doors to F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. Our first roaster had a capacity of about 100 pounds. My three brothers and I worked day and night shifts with our father, Don Francisco, and made our own deliveries. While we all worked many jobs when we first started, I mostly managed the office and did the accounting. My brother Paco was our building engineer, Pedro roasted and packed the coffee, and José was our first sales representative and delivery driver.

Our business could never have survived had it not been for our mother Anatolia, known as Golo. She was the backbone that kept the spirit of entrepreneurship alive-the one that would not give up when things were not going our way. Today, we still work every day to make sure that the coffee we serve is as good as what we once grew ourselves. It is incredible to see the next generation, nine of our children, work together with our extended family of 200+ employees to bring new ideas to the table and continue to grow the company.

The beauty of family business is that each generation adds something fresh to the original dream.

Gavina Family Portrait BW 2014

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