Colombian Student Gives Back to Home Country
Sophie Meza, a senior student from Bogota, Colombia and avid coffee drinker, spent her summer working for Vega Coffee, the fair-trade coffee company that sponsors Lynn’s cafeteria.
Meza was accepted into the Ambassador Corps program and traveled to Colombia to intern for Vega Coffee. Vega Coffee, a startup business based in Nicaragua and Colombia, replaced Starbucks in the cafeteria after alumnus Rigo Beltran interned in Nicaragua and pushed for Lynn to become fair-trade. Vega Coffee aims to disrupt the traditional coffee supply chain by connecting customers directly to smallholder farming communities and partnering with them to roast their own coffee.
“I think it was a win-win for me. I had the possibility to go back to my home country, spend time with my family and people around, but at the same time, get to know more about the company’s social side in Colombia,” said Meza. “I was able to understand another part of my country and their meaningful side that a lot of people do not see.”
Vega opens coffee roasters in Latin American communities that are accessible to smallholder farmers. Vega’s equipment is the same high-caliber equipment found in the United States. Vega works to educate women farmers about all stages of coffee processing including cupping, roasting, packaging and order fulfillment – making them “seed to cup” coffee professionals.
After this, Vega delivers their roasted coffee at origin directly to customers in the United States by cutting out the middlemen. This way, Vega can pay up to four times the standard price per pound, giving their employees and farmers much more than the fair-trade certification requires.
“What resonated with me the most was working with the women at the plant in Popayan,” said Meza. “I think I haven’t had any life changing experience before like this onew. Their feelings and views towards life are simply incredible. I feel that they are so amazing, and it has been because of what each of them have gone through. I thought I had accomplished something in life, but after meeting them, I realized I have done nothing in life.”
Vega’s social mission is to fight unbalanced and unfair pay, insufficient and outdated supply chain, unsustainable coffee creation and consumption, gender inequality and ecological impacts.
“Lynn students should be happy they are drinking Vega because they are supporting a company that has changed women’s lives in a 360 way after they arrive at Vega because of their amazing corporate social responsibility policies,” said Meza. “They are breaking the traditional coffee supply chain and have proved it possible to cut the middleman out and give more money to the farmers.”