About this project
Imagine a world where every time you took a sip of coffee you were making someone's life better.
Imagine knowing the name and face of the farmer in Nicaragua that spent years tending to the coffee plant that your coffee came from.
Imagine that your favorite coffee reliably appeared on your doorstep exactly when you wanted it, without you having to go to your coffee shop or grocery store to replace it.
That's Vega’s mission.
We’re asking for your support to help launch our pilot, and deliver hand-selected, specialty-grade, world-changing coffee straight from the farm to your door.
Specialty coffee farmers often earn around $1 per pound of coffee, which is ultimately roasted and sold abroad for upwards of $20 per pound. That dollar leaves many farmers unable to afford basic needs like education and healthcare, let alone reinvest in their crop or community. In fact, 80% of coffee farmers worldwide—about 20 million farmers—are trapped in a cycle of subsistence farming, which means that they barely earn enough to continue farming.
Why the disparity between cost and price? Most farmers in the developing world lack direct access to markets, and sell their coffee to middlemen.
In fact, it can take up to six months and around 20 middlemen for a coffee bean to reach the consumer! As a result, farmers often have no idea what the finished product looks like or how coffee lovers enjoy it, coffee lovers have no connection to the farmers who grow their coffee, and middlemen wind up reaping handsome profits.
Farmers spend years planting, harvesting, picking, washing, drying, hulling, polishing, grading, sorting, and packing the coffee we enjoy every day. But, because they ultimately sell a raw, unprocessed commodity to middlemen, they are left with little resources or latitude to change their economic situation.
A Tough Situation Made Worse
To complicate matters, over the last two years La Roya, a coffee rust plague, has decimated 1/3 of coffee crops throughout Central America. In the communities we work with in Nicaragua, we’ve seen some farmers whose entire crop has been destroyed, forcing them to abandon their land and pursue manual labor elsewhere—sometimes leaving behind their families and emigrating from Nicaragua.
If there was ever a time when farmers needed to get the most value out of their beans, it's now. Partner with Vega, and we'll do just that.
Here’s how it works:
We’ve teamed up with EOS International, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting appropriate technology in the developing world, to design and build modular, inexpensive, reliable roasters that use significantly less fuel than traditional devices, so they not only empower our farmers, but respect the environment. Since a disproportionate amount of the profits are in roasting, providing farmers with the tools to roast coffee beans themselves is a huge disruption to the status quo.
And the taste! Our roasters develop a truly one-of-a-kind artisanal roast. Vega Coffee is hand roasted in small batches to ensure that the full balanced flavor of our beans shines. It’s a beautiful thing, really.
Here’s where we need to give farmers credit—they already know how to roast! They’ve been doing it for generations. Vega’s training is focused on familiarizing the farmers with our new sustainable roasters and collaborating with them to optimize old and new world techniques and popular roast styles.
Finally, enter the Vega Marketplace. Vega’s online Marketplace (www.thinkvega.com) is where customers can purchase these beans directly from farmers via a subscription service. The Vega Marketplace will eventually feature farmers representing a variety of regions and coffee varietals. Customers will be able to search for farmers and select coffee based on origin, tasting notes, and/or roasting profile. If you already know what you want, and just need an easy way to find it -- we’ll have that covered. If you have an adventurous palate and want to try new coffee, sit back and let’s us prepare a curated box for you. Either way, we’ll make sure to provide a top-notch customers service experience. That’s important to us as founders.
And unlike any other coffee site out there, customers will have the capability to connect directly with farmers—read their personal stories and watch videos of the farmers harvesting, processing, and roasting their beans. In time, the Vega Marketplace will feature a platform to message farmers directly. How cool would it be to message a farmer halfway around the world to let them know what you thought of a particular roast or even just to say “hey, thanks, this coffee is awesome”?
Finally, Vega handles all export and distribution logistics from farm to your doorstep. How can we do that and maintain freshness? We utilize air shipping to ensure that our coffee gets from the farm to your door just as the flavor peaks after the roasting and de-gassing process.
Use of Funds - Pilot
We were so inspired to make this idea a reality that we left our jobs in San Francisco, moved back to Nicaragua (where we had lived for years before) and decided to give this a go. We’ve been bootstrapping our expenses thus far, but those straps are wearing a bit thin (is that how it works?). We’re turning to Kickstarter to get the word out and enable us to take Vega to the next level.
This Kickstarter campaign will finance our pilot by allowing us to purchase specialty-grade, earth-friendly coffee, install roasters, train farmers, and deliver a limited batch of our amazing coffee straight from the farm to your door.
Our goal is to test out our model, managing all operations from the roast to shipping logistics. We want to evaluate what works, and what can improve, so we can iterate as needed in preparation for a full brand launch.
This is a one-time opportunity to join Team Vega and experience this incredible journey alongside us. Not only can you be among the first to taste Vega Coffee, but we’ll keep you up-to-date with videos and emails, so you’re right there along for the ride (but we’ll try not to pester you, of course).
Sourcing for Pilot (and Beyond)
We were lucky to source some of our absolute favorite coffee from the Miraflor region of Nicaragua for our Kickstarter rewards. This coffee delivers up front a delicious chocolate-almond flavor. You’ll taste delicate hints of caramel and stone fruit, with a creamy finish that leaves you ready to sink in and get cozy. With its well-rounded body and balanced acidity, this coffee truly has something for every type of coffee drinker. We love this coffee with a pour-over, or any ol' way you like it!
These beans embody Vega’s commitment to only purveying truly excellent, delightfully unique coffee to our customers. Depending on the amount of backers to this campaign, we may need to source additional coffee to fulfill rewards. With any coffee we source, you have our word that we will only bring you beans that live up to our high standards.
How Kickstarter Works
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing model; if we don’t reach our goal by the end of the fundraiser, your account will not be charged and we won’t receive any funding. You don’t want to see us cry, do you? (Please help us hit our goal!)
To pledge to a project, just click the green “Back This Project” button on this page. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. Note that you must finish the Amazon checkout process for your support to be recorded. Again, some people run into trouble completing their donation—If you encounter a problem, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Risks and challenges
Since Vega began, we have worked diligently with our partners to mitigate as many risks as possible. Yet, we know there will still be hurdles along the way. We will always be transparent with our community about challenges, including the following—
Product: We commit to bringing our customers fantastic coffee. But, as part of our early community, we’ll look to you for feedback on taste, roast, branding, and whatever else your heart desires. That’s the exciting part of being a part of Team Vega. You get to actually shape the direction we take moving forward—from the roasting profiles, to the online marketplace to the subscription service.
Shipping: We have built in extra time to account for potential operations hurdles and are confident we will ship by the projected dates, but there is always a chance that things will take longer than planned. We will keep you posted should any obstacles arise.
We understand that there are many variables involved in starting a new company, and we can't promise that we'll be perfect. But we commit to giving 150% of ourselves to delivering high quality coffee, featuring a stellar customer service experience, and working toward a more inclusive supply chain built on the power of connection.
Vega is your company. Welcome to the family.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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