Cafe ZunZun started with humble beginnings selling coffee at the local farmers market in Cypress, Texas. The owners, Pascale and Joel knew they wanted to bring the slow-food lifestyle of their unique French and Cuban culture to their fast-paced American community. Their intention was to run an organic, sustainable, and environmentally friendly business and offer a calm and inviting space for their customers to enjoy the magic of freshly brewed coffee. The name of their company, ZunZun, was inspired by a hummingbird species in Cuba, which is known by the indigenous population/peoples (Taino) as the “sacred pollinator”. The ZunZun bird lives and thrives in the ecosystems of shade grown coffee and is a symbol for sustainability because it pollinates many flowers in the region as well as the coffee crops. The ZunZun hummingbird represents the symbiotic nature of coffee, our environment and it’s living organisms.
Joel and started roasting coffee in their garage on a small propane roaster and worked their way up to three to four farmers markets a month. In 2015, they purchased land to start building their first cafe location for Cafe ZunZun. “Understanding the coffee industry and building out a cafe was like learning two businesses at once” Pascale states. They contracted with the California based company EcoSteel to build out their new location, which was constructed with a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint. The prefab building is made from insulated steel meant to withstand Texas storms and reduce energy consumption. There is a spout on the edge of their building that collects rainwater and waters the plants below, reminiscent of a ZunZun hummingbird beak. Every detail of their beautiful cafe was thoughtfully sourced and executed with their overall goal of sustainability.
The process of building their sustainable cafe and being diligent about their sourcing was not always easy. Pascale state, “From making sure the cups are compostable, every small decision makes a difference. Every square centimeter of the building was a week-long decision”. When Pascale and Joel are sourcing their materials like cups, bags, and of course, coffee, they try to source from B Corps, woman-owned, and/or minority-owned businesses. Joel saw firsthand the deforestation caused by coffee plantations, and knew he wanted to support farms that fit his values of sustainability and fair wages. Joel sources coffee from around the world and has been deliberate about only purchasing from farms that are doing good for the planet and the people involved.
When it was time to purchase a roaster, Joel knew that Loring was the right fit. Loring’s vision of sustainability, quality, innovation, and energy efficiency was in line with their long-term goals for Cafe ZunZun. Their Loring was delivered in August of 2020, and since then they have been roasting about three to four times a week on their Loring S15.
To educate their community and create more awareness around sustainability, Pascale and Joel plan on offering coffee brewing classes where they create more awareness around sustainability, and the importance of buying organic and ethically sourced coffee. Their “people over profit” business model has made a mark in the coffee industry and will hopefully continue to empower and inspire others. When talking about what coffee means to them, Pascale and Joel believe that coffee is a bridge for people, and its important to bring people together to share that.