The History of Café Bustelo®

It all started when Gregorio Bustelo, a young man from Galicia, Spain, arrived in Cuba and fell in love with the coffee of the island. Eager to learn, he got a job at a coffee roaster, and after just a few months met the girl of his dreams — a young Cuban woman who shared Gregorio’s passion for coffee.

Shortly after the young couple married, they decided to travel to Puerto Rico, where Gregorio continued to work in the coffee industry. It was around this time that the United States Congress passed the Jones-Shafroth Act, granting the people of Puerto Rico U.S. citizenship. And so, like many others, the Bustelos left Puerto Rico to seek a new life in New York City.

East Harlem, also known as El Barrio Latino, became the couple’s new home. Unable to find jobs, they gathered their savings and bought a coffee roaster, and got their business off the ground by way of good timing. Because they lived close to a theater, they would roast coffee around the times movies would let out, so the wonderful and captivating aroma would greet people exiting the theater. They started selling coffee from their home at night, and during the day, Gregorio would sell to neighborhood restaurants. By 1931, a storefront on 5th Avenue — between 113th and 114th Streets — proudly displayed the “Bustelo Coffee Roasters” sign. The business prospered, and the brand’s popularity was no longer limited to El Barrio.