The history of the Gaviña family coffee business began more than a century ago when brothers José María and Ramón Gaviña roasted beans in Cuba 140 years ago.
Once the family immigrated to the U.S., so did the business. From a single, used coffee roaster in 1967 in Vernon, the F. Gaviña and Sons empire began.
Francisco Gaviña’s children –Paco Gaviña, Pedro Gaviña, José Gaviña and Leonor Gaviña-Valls – and ensuiing generations of Gaviñas grew the business to where it now roasts more than 40 million pounds of coffee annually.
Cousins Michael Gaviña (the company’s director of procurement) and Lisa Gaviña-López (marketing director) joined Leonor Gaviña-Valls in accepting the Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Business and Philanthrophy on May 7.
“It’s a huge honor to be recognized by the Latino Caucus. My family has been in the coffee business for this long, now nearly 150 years,” said Lisa, “We’ve been in business in Los Ángeles for 50 years.”
The company was hailed as the nation’s largest minority-owned business supplying popular markets, such as McDonald’s and Costco.
Francisco Gaviña, grandfather to Michael and Lisa, had settled in Cuba, but left when Fidel Castro took control. The arrived in southern California in the late 1950s.
Today the company roasts millions of coffee for popular food chains. Popular brands are Gaviña Gourmet Coffee, Don Francisco’s Coffee and Café La Llave Espresso with each carrying family’s trademarks. Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana was opened in downtown Los Ángeles.
Gaviña-López said her family has achieved the American dream.
“It’s really become the spirit of our community, the Latino community; all the hard work, the perseverance, blood, sweat, tears,” said Gaviña-López,
Gaviña-López prides itself on family, which currently employs 260 workers, but the two boasted the company’s outreach.
“Last year, we supported over 300 different charities, many in the local community. We’re just so proud of what our grandparents started, and our parents continue and our generation is continuing,” added Gaviña-López.
Michael believes it’s also savvy business practices.
“It’s very difficult to go this long as a business, but, as a company, we continue to reinvest in our business, and we have a passion for what we do,” he said, “In other words, that’s what drives us during good times and bad times.”
The company’s outreach includes their international interests: According to Michael, there are now Colombian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan ties to the business.
“We have generations of employees, where the father, and now the son, is in the business. Many of our employees have been able to put their kids through college,” added Gaviña-López.
The awards, organized by the Latino Legislative Caucus, were part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration.