Fernando and Barbara Vaquero of Calmar, Iowa, own and operate K'uun Coffee, roasting single-origin coffees in small batches. Their K'unn Coffee is served at Luther College. The Vaqueros are natives of Honduras, where Fernando's family owns a small farm growing coffee, African palm and other agricultural products.
After moving to the United States and starting a family, the couple researched many areas of the country, looking for a region that would be strong in education and would support the coffee business they wanted to develop. Northeast Iowa met their needs, Fernando says, because of the two colleges here—Luther and Northeast Iowa Community College—and because many organizations and residents support local, organic and fair-trade businesses.
Finding no other coffee roasters in the area, Fernando said, "We saw the opportunity to supply a coffee that is fresh and customized to the needs of our customers." In the summer of 2011, the family made the move to northeast Iowa. Bean Masters, as the company was then called, received the largest small business grant awarded by Winneshiek County Development in May, then started operation in July, roasting coffee beans from Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ethiopia and Kenya that are Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. The company serves customers ranging from large businesses to individual households.
The Vaqueros roast coffee in batches of just two kilograms each, as dark or as light as the customer requests. They have offered to develop a Luther blend based on input from the college. Fernando also said that some profits from K'unn will be set aside to benefit others. "At the core of our company is a mission to give back to the community. Five percent of revenue from Luther will go into a fund to support the needs of the community," he said. "We believe we have a social responsibility."
Bean Masters can be contacted at [email protected] or (563) 562-9033.