Willy Herrera - Drew Estate

This profile was first published in the July/August 2014 issue of Cigar Snob

by Nicolás A. Jiménez

As soon as he stepped out of his car on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho, it was brewing time. The cigar shops and factories that dot the neighborhood were Willy Herrera’s stomping grounds when he was making cigars at El Titán de Bronze. Since his transition to Drew Estate about three years ago, his responsibilities at the company’s Estelí, Nicaragua factory and event appearances all over the U.S. have kept him away from home. What he’s missed most about Miami, he says, is the Cuban coffee.

There’s a lot to love about Estelí, though. Before his current gig, Willy had never been to Nicaragua. He’s been glad to find that—as he puts it—he fits in.

“When I’m over there, the biggest thing I enjoy is the peacefulness,” he said, sipping a Cuban coffee at Little Havana’s El Pub restaurant, where the espresso pours are especially generous. “It doesn’t matter if I’m here at my house or at a six-star hotel anywhere in the States, I never sleep as well as I do over there. It’s just the lifestyle. The people are so warm, so humble. I fit right in. They’re so eager to help, to learn, to do better, to move up ahead.”

That drive to improve and get ahead is easy for Willy to relate to. After getting his first taste of full-time cigar work while filling in for a sick in-law at El Titán de Bronze (which was founded by his wife’s parents and grandparents), Willy left his job in banking to pursue a life in cigars.

It doesn’t matter if I’m here at my house or at a six-star hotel anywhere in the States, I never sleep as well as I do [in Estelí]. It’s just the lifestyle. The people are so warm, so humble. I fit right in.
— Willy Herrera

“My father-in-law had gotten sick,” he said. “I’d been in banking seven and a half years, but I would come in on weekends, after work, whatever. When he gets sick, I come in for a week and... Dude, I just fucking fell in love with everything about it. The lifestyle, the people you work with, the actual tobacco, everything about it. A week after that, I started full-time with the factory. That was it. I quit my job.”

As soon as he stepped out of his car on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho, it was brewing time. The cigar shops and factories that dot the neighborhood were Willy Herrera’s stomping grounds when he was making cigars at El Titán de Bronze. Since his transition to Drew Estate about three years ago, his responsibilities at the company’s Estelí, Nicaragua factory and event appearances all over the U.S. have kept him away from home. What he’s missed most about Miami, he says, is the Cuban coffee.There’s a lot to love about Estelí, though. Before his current gig, Willy had never been to Nicaragua. He’s been glad to find that—as he puts it—he fits in.

“When I’m over there, the biggest thing I enjoy is the peacefulness,” he said, sipping a Cuban coffee at Little Havana’s El Pub restaurant, where the espresso pours are especially generous. “It doesn’t matter if I’m here at my house or at a six-star hotel anywhere in the States, I never sleep as well as I do over there. It’s just the lifestyle. The people are so warm, so humble. I fit right in. They’re so eager to help, to learn, to do better, to move up ahead.”

That drive to improve and get ahead is easy for Willy to relate to. After getting his first taste of full-time cigar work while filling in for a sick in-law at El Titán de Bronze (which was founded by his wife’s parents and grandparents), Willy left his job in banking to pursue a life in cigars.

“My father-in-law had gotten sick,” he said. “I’d been in banking seven and a half years, but I would come in on weekends, after work, whatever. When he gets sick, I come in for a week and... Dude, I just fucking fell in love with everything about it. The lifestyle, the people you work with, the actual tobacco, everything about it. A week after that, I started full-time with the factory. That was it. I quit my job.”