A one-man coffee roasting operation in New York City aims to prove that every coffee has a story—even when they all come from the same producing country. Meet Cesar Vega of Cafe Integral, whose love of Nicaragua and family connections to that country have inspired him to chase his coffee dreams.
Cafe Integral aims to bring exceptional Nicaraguan coffees to the forefront of American coffee culture. The roasting company and cafe sources all its coffees from four of Nicaragua’s finest regions; known for their characteristic depth and balance, but also for their dynamic and complex profiles.
“My goal is to create a deeper understanding of Nicaraguan coffee, and deepen our community of producers, to bring closer connections between our team here and their work there.” Vega says “Idealistically, I would love to create a body of work that can categorize and break down Nicaraguan coffee producing areas, varieties, processes, and practices.”
Cafe Integral began it's New York based roasting operations in 2012 and established a roasting studio in Upper Manhattan where coffees are carefully roasted in small batches. In addition, they opened an espresso and brew bar inside a downtown boutique. The company has expanded from there with a flagship cafe in New Yorks's Nolita district and outposts in Miami Beach and Chicago.
Although Cafe Integral is a new venture for him, Vega has a lifetime of coffee in him. His family has owned several small coffee farms in Nicaragua's Jinotega region for over a quarter century, and Vega has long been drawn to dark, delicious brews from his family's birthplace. Though he was born in Miami, Vega's always felt a kind of magnetic force pulling him toward "home": That force, it turns out, is coffee.
“I am always working on finding variety within Nicaragua, and it's been so fascinating. If I am a missing a brighter, sprightly coffee, with a nice citric opening, I start in Jinotega and work around there; I know that coffees from Dipilto have a deeper, more fibrous bottom end to them, and that the makeup of the soil contributes to certain qualities.” Vega Continues “As coffee culture grows, I would like to see drinkers discerning and knowing what a coffee from Jinotega versus Madriz versus Nueva Segovia can offer. It's not at all uncommon to know a wine down to the village it originates from—coffee can get there as well.”