In their latest piece for L.A. Weekly, Food Editor Michele Stueven reports on how the Gaviña family helped kick start Los Angeles’ coffee revolution. A National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight, this cover story tells the full story of how an immigrant family, the Gaviñas, fled Cuba in the early 60s and made their home and legacy in L.A., bringing their longstanding traditions and generational knowledge of coffee bean cultivation with them. For more than 150 years, the family have been coffee growers, farmers and roasters.
“My grandfather was born on the plantation, and learned from his father how to cultivate coffee and how to select the best beans for roasting to make an espresso, which comes from our Spanish heritage,” Lisette Gaviña, the Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of F. Gaviña and Sons, tells L.A. Weekly. “But by 1960 Fidel Castro came into power and things started to change. The priests warned the family that the government was going to take their children away. Farmers were being kidnapped from their properties, beaten up mentally and physically. The government confiscated the farms. Operation Peter Pan was bringing in American planes and Cuban parents were handing over their children to American families because they would rather see their children grow up with freedom and opportunity than have them be indoctrinated against their parents or have children turn their parents in for overhearing anti-communist conversations. Some were reunited, some never saw their families again. ”