23-year-old uses Dominican agriculture roots to create new coffee business

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A young entrepreneur from Fordham took his Dominican agriculture roots and planted the seeds of an up-and-coming coffee business. 

Like many college students and young professionals, 23-year-old Hector Castillo-Carvajal is a big fan of coffee. But it was at an internship with his brother that the idea for a coffee business started brewing.

He took his idea, and an initial marketing plan rejection, to his classroom at the University of Rochester, and it was there that Don Carvajal Cafe was born. It is named in honor of Castillo-Carvajal's late grandfather who was a farmer in the Dominican Republic.

"I wanted it to be natural, organic, something that was more for the environment, more ethical," said Castillo-Carvajal. "I try to do origin trips two or three times a year -- go to the farm, meet the farmer."

At first, Castillo-Carvajal ran his operation out of his dorm room, often driving hours downstate to give out samples of his USDA organic, rainforest-certified brew in the city.

Every coffee shop in the Bronx turned him away. His first distributor was Fine Fare in Fordham, where, years prior, he worked as a bag boy. While the business has grown in less than a year, that work ethic remains the same.

Now brewing out of Long Island City, Castillo-Carvajal sells hundreds of pounds of coffee from Colombia, Haiti and his native Dominican Republic at 40 stores across the city.

His slogan is "Coffee That Cares," a company that cares about the environment and the roots that grew the idea to fruition.

 

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