Cafe ZunZun is owned and operated by Joel Castellanos alongside his wife, Pascale Petronin. While they come from different parts of the world—Castellanos being Cuban and Petronin being French—they found both cultures share a culture of coffee and community.
“[If] you go to a Cuban community and you go into a house, the first thing that [happens is] the people will give you coffee without telling you anything,” Castellanos said. “You just go to the house, and they will prepare you a cup of coffee and serve you a cup of coffee. It’s paralleled in France; they have the same tradition.”
After moving to the Houston area, Castellanos and Petronin found American fast-food restaurants and cafes limited people’s ability to socialize and enjoy coffee and food. They also noticed a lack of environmentally friendly businesses in the area, which concerned the eco-friendly family.
These observations encouraged them to make the changes they wanted to see in the community and go from selling their responsibly sourced coffee at farmers’ markets in 2013 to opening Cafe ZunZun in 2021.
“We want to set an example of sustainability in our community and lead the way in terms of what we would like to see more of, like reusable cups and less plastic straws and less waste,” Castellanos’ daughter Mayra said.
The family chose the name ZunZun to pay tribute to the endangered hummingbird species native to Cuba. According to Castellanos, the hummingbird was seen by ancient cultures of Central America as a god of life due to the life it brings through pollination. With the hummingbird in mind, they had their building designed to resemble the bird by a sustainability-driven builder from California.
Building on their goals of protecting the planet and putting people over profits, Castellanos said he carefully selects the sources of his coffee beans. He visits producers personally to ensure the beans are produced without contributing to deforestation. He also works with small farmers in need of business and women-owned producers who are often overlooked or underpaid.
“It’s another story about women because women, [they’re] usually a pillar of the community. They do the hardest work, but they don’t have the compensation,” Castellanos said. “So we decided, ‘OK, let me support women-owned farms, … because if we support them financially, they will have a voice in the community.'”
The culmination of these efforts can make running the business harder at times with producers having limited supplies. But Castellanos said he believes it is all worth it to make a difference in the world and in the lives of those he works with and serves.
“It makes me happy to see that we’re helping somebody that nobody knows on the other side of the planet, and at the same time we are also making people happy [right here],” Castellanos said. “For me, it’s a very good feeling.”
Protecting the planet and producing coffee
Joel Castellanos and Pascale Petronin have a unique vision for the coffee roasting company they own.
Castellanos ensures the coffee he buys does not come from farmers who participate in deforestation.
Cafe ZunZun makes an effort to support female producers, giving them the pay and recognition they deserve.
The building was made with minimal waste and materials that were built to last.
From reusable cups to paper straws and compostable packaging, Cafe ZunZun ensures its products are free of harmful materials.
Cafe ZunZun uses a Loring coffee roaster, which is known for its minimal environmental impact.
12716 Telge Road, Cypress. 281-914-4906. www.cafezunzun.com
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 7 am-3:30 pm, Sat. 8 am-3:30 pm, Sun. 8:30 am-2:30 pm, closed Mon.