Café Integral represents the next wave of American roasteries. Instead of vying with other roasters for the same beans from Ethiopia, Colombia, and Guatemala, César Vega is telling a personal story through Nicaraguan coffee. Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, Vega sources exclusively from the mountains of his home country, a region rich in a coffee history that’s finally making its way to American cafes.
When he launched Café Integral in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, Vega had a hunch that Nicaragua’s best beans weren’t making it to market. His vertically integrated business model aims to change that. Vega works with farmers to improve harvests, seeks out new origins, and serves as a one-man marketing machine for his country’s beans. In his Soho cafe, and now across the country, he shares coffees that come from distinct microclimates, farmers, processes, and Arabica varietals. Here are four of his current favorites: