Total loan: $10,000


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Baltimore, MD, United States / Food

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A loan helped purchase a small batch roaster that will help us meet the demand for our coffee.

Carlos's story

Café Los Sueños is a specialty coffee roastery with a social mission. Our inspiration comes from the life story of co-founder and roaster, Carlos Payes, who grew up working in the coffee fields near Santa Ana, El Salvador. We are dedicated to providing our customers with a unique connection to the source, and to sharing our success with the hard-working coffee communities who bring us our daily cup. Born in the mountains of El Salvador, roaster Carlos Payes grew up working in the coffee fields, planting, nursing and pruning the young trees. In November, when the coffee had ripened into bright red cherries, he joined hundreds of other harvesters from his area to pick the crop by hand. Even as a child, Carlos’s primary obligation was to help his family survive. His family lived in a remote mountainous area, without access to electricity, running water or transportation. His family struggled to subsist on the crops they grew by hand, on 55 acres of land that they rented about an hour’s walk from home. The combination of the labor-intensive practices, the high cost of fertilizer and the devastating civil war of the 1980 and 90s presented grave economic challenges for his family. They often did not have enough food to eat; Carlos and his siblings went barefoot. When he was in the second grade, Carlos left school to help grow food for the family. He didn’t return until he was 13 years old. After finishing elementary school, his family made the courageous choice to send him to high school, which was hours away by pick up truck. To earn the money for tuition, his father worked for other families for $3 a day and gave Carlos $2 a day for transportation, food and materials. Thanks to his family’s sacrifice, Carlos was the first member of his family to attend, and to graduate from, high school. Since immigrating to the United States, Carlos has worked hard to overcome poverty, to help his family and to live his own American dream. He sent his nephew to high school. He built a house for his sister. He helped his brother start a snack stand. He also sent his youngest sister to school and gave her the money to open her own business. At the same time, he has also invested in his own future. For as long as he can remember, Carlos always dreamed of having an ownership stake in the coffee industry. In 2009 he took the first steps toward that dream, by purchasing a coffee farm in the Santa Ana region of El Salvador. With the goal of becoming a specialty coffee roaster, Carlos then started pursuing his professional development with the same diligence as he used to advance his other dreams. He received his formal roasting training and certification through the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. In May 2014, Café Los Sueños formally launched at the Glover Park Farmer’s Market in Northwest Washington, DC. Today, we sell our coffee through farmers markets, specialty retail stores, independent community coffee shops, office subscriptions and to individual supporters. Learn more about our business online at: www.cafelossuenos.com or www.facebook.com/CafeLosSuenos