Brandon Walton and Ivan Mengual met at Leicester College on the Access for Business one-year course. Brandon had always wanted to open his own business and, whilst talking to Ivan, the pair discovered a shared passion for entrepreneurship, focusing on quality coffee made with freshly roasted beans as a business opportunity.
While still on the course at Leicester College and after initially importing green beans to sell to roasters, they decided to become coffee roasters themselves. With investments of their own money and a government-backed Start Up Loan of £25,000 that Brandon received on his 21st birthday, they developed their new business.
Brandon bought the parts to build his own coffee roaster in 2012. Then, with the desire to start a business, shared interests in coffee and travel, and skills learnt on the course, Brandon and Ivan launched a coffee roasting company in December 2016, supplying companies across the UK with high quality beans.
In 2018, the pair decided to go in a slightly different direction and invested in a unit on Belgrave Gate. They were joined in their venture by friend Oscar Moreno and refurbished the unit into a cosy cafe. Cafe Conexion was launched as a place where fellow coffee lovers can relax and enjoy a drink made from freshly roasted beans – all single-origin, 100 per cent Arabica and sourced by the team directly from farmers in Columbia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.
After graduating from Leicester College, Brandon had started an International Business course at De Montfort University. He was two years into the course when they opened Café Conexion. He was kept so busy running the successful business, that he decided to complete his final year at a later date.
The café is going from strength to strength and, prior to lockdown, the team launched a cocktail bar, within the café, that before the restrictions, was open in the evenings serving coffee-inspired cocktails.
Brandon says: “We pride ourselves on fresh, roasting speciality beans for people that care about the taste of their coffee. Our beans have a consistently high rating, based on international standards. The opening of the coffee shop gave our business even more credibility. Building a business takes time and we’re benefitting from all of the hard work that we’ve put in.
“The Leicester College course helped us with writing business plans in a professional way, marketing our business and more, helping us to grow the business and saving us time. Without the knowledge and skills that I learnt on the course, we would not have started the business.”