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.