Our Philosophy, Story, Mission & Values
Vega Coffee was founded on the audacious idea
that the very same farmers who not only
plant, harvest, pick, wash, depulp,
dry, hull, sort, grade polish and pack
the incredible coffee we drink every day,
could roast and package it too.
that the future of coffee is
We believe in the power of connection. Connection fosters knowledge, and knowledge fosters appreciation. Coffee lovers learn more about their coffee and who produces it, while coffee farmers process their own product and learn how consumers enjoy it.
We believe in the power of opportunity. Vega believes that producers deserve a fair price for their high-quality food. We empower farmers with the tools and training to roast their own beans, and facilitate market access, so that they can earn more income for their coffee and lifelong skills.
We believe in the power of choice. We empower our customers with the access to a fair and responsible coffee sources through our Direct Trade coffee subscription. After all, in each customer is the power to personally change how coffee is traded, processed, and sold throughout the world. We want to help make that change positive.
We believe in the power of quality. Quality is the embodiment of love and pride in one’s work, and we’re bent on creating a company that fosters that power in our producers. A company that our customers can always rely on for fresh, incredibly unique, Farmer direct coffee.
We believe in the power of fun! That’s why we’ve set up our Farmer Roasted Coffee subscriptions to take the hassle and guesswork out of buying coffee. Let your coffee mug be your vehicle to travel the world and get to know incredible coffee and farmers. Let’s hit the road and start connecting!
What Kind of Organization Are We?
When we started Vega Coffee, we had a world of questions to answer. Everything from “How do we make it all work?” to “What’s for lunch?” As a small team of three, the one thing that we’ve never questioned is why we’re here. Everyone at Vega Coffee wants to change the world by bringing farmers and coffee lovers together to create a more equitable and fulfilling coffee experience through our Farmer direct coffee. Whether our daily impact is measured in lines of code or pounds of green beans roasted, everything we do is in service of our mission.
PART OF THE COMMUNITY
Vega Coffee is part of the communities we serve. Our roasting and processing center is located in Estelí, Nicaragua, right in the heart of Nicaraguan coffee country. Our office is literally down the road from the country’s biggest farmer cooperatives.
That’s one reason why Vega Coffee is unlike any other coffee company out there. Vega’s roasting and processing center is run by the farmers themselves. Vega empowers our farmers with extensive training in roasting techniques and quality control. We build upon the roasting knowledge farmers already have to familiarize them with the latest in roasting technology and market preferences (again, it’s all about connection!).
Together, we build networks among farmers to optimize old and new world techniques, exchange advice and collaborate to bring you the very best coffee we can.
By building our roasting and processing center amongst the farmers that grow our coffee, we foster new skills for our farmers, and fortify these local communities and their economies. Our model helps foster a more equitable, sustainable and efficient alternative to the current coffee market.
BUILT ON DIRECT CONNECTIONS
There was a time when most of us coffee lovers didn't know much about where our coffee came from, nor the farmers who grew their beloved beans. We drank our coffee in one corner of the world, farmers grew it in another corner, and that was that. In fact, coffee farmers have historically lacked direct access to markets, and relied on intermediaries to sell their coffee. As a result, farmers often have no idea what the finished product looks like or how coffee lovers enjoy it. Meanwhile, coffee lovers pay a high premium and have no connection to the farmers who grow their coffee.
Vega Coffee bridges that gap. Our farmers take on more of the value chain, so they earn more as a result. You pay less because Vega’s coffee goes through less hands. Meanwhile, more of your dollar goes directly to the farmers and cooperatives that spend years caring for your coffee through our Direct Trade coffee subscriptions.
Vega Coffee’s roots stretch all the way back to 2005 when we took our first trip to Nicaragua. We stumbled upon an incredible women-owned coffee cooperative in the Miraflor Nature Preserve near Estelí that sold most of their annual crop to exporters.
As coffee lovers, we fell in love with their one-of-a-kind organic specialty beans. It was the type of coffee that we’d pay $3 a cup for back home in the US. Yet, despite the fact that these farmers dedicated their livelihood to grow high quality, organic, Fair Trade coffee, they simply weren’t earning a sustainable wage.
Something was wrong with this picture.
We went home to the States, became certified roasters, and learned everything we could about coffee. We later returned to Nicaragua and were shocked to see the devastation that the La Roya coffee rust plague had wreaked on the Nicaraguan coffee crop, deeply affecting farmers we knew and loved. Some farmers’ entire crop had been destroyed, forcing them to abandon their land and look for work wherever they could find it -- sometimes leaving behind their families and emigrating from Nicaragua.
We had been working on the idea for Vega Coffee for a while, but it was at that very moment that we knew that the time to act was now.
We also received inspiration and encouragement from a special company named Madecasse. Madecasse has lead the way on in-country processing in chocolate, creating amazing chocolate bars in the same country where their cocoa is grown -- Madagascar -- thereby producing 4x the impact of Fair Trade certified cocoa. We still remember the moment that we discovered their chocolate in our local coffee shop in San Francisco. It helped give us the courage to make the jump to found Vega.
So, we left our jobs, packed up our bags and moved to Nicaragua on a mission to connect the world’s coffee farmers directly with the world’s coffee lovers in pursuit of a better future.
Vega Coffee is a collaboration between three great friends on a mission to build a better cup of coffee.
Rob returns to Nicaragua after three years as an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he worked principally with start-ups, specializing in social enterprises, impact investment and technology companies. Rob earned a joint J.D./M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University. Prior to law school, Rob spent two years in Nicaragua working with a women's coffee cooperative to develop roasting capacity and built a national market for their coffee. He also spent several months in Uganda working in the microfinance space. Rob earned a B.A. from Boston College and is a certified coffee roaster.
Noushin is a certified coffee roaster and licensed Q Grader -- a professionally trained cupper accredited by the Coffee Quality Institute to grade Arabica coffee. Prior to Vega, Noushin was a Senior Regulatory Analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission, advising on matters related to the state’s strategic energy planning. In 2011, Noushin completed a Fulbright in Nicaragua on its renewable energy policy framework. She holds a joint J.D./M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University. Previously, Noushin earned a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley with honors, and worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on climate change and water policy. She has lived in Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain -- and currently Nicaragua, where she co-directs Vega’s in-country operations.
Prior to heading up Vega's online and marketing operations, Will spent over a decade helping businesses grow and scale as a digital marketer, built one of the first web apps for cataloging what you own using photos, and three years managing customer acquisition, user-experience and product development at two peer-2-peer commerce start-ups.