Two stores committed to social change to discover for International Coffee Day

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Coming almost immediately after National Coffee Day, October 1 marks the seventh year of International Coffee Day, an occasion meant to celebrate the classic drink.

With that in mind, here are two Latino-owned cafes in the area that have showcased a passion for brewing coffee, connecting local communities and engaging in social change.

Amid the pandemic, couple Carissa and Mauriel Vega wanted to find a way to connect with their local community in Woodbridge.

Carissa is from Puerto Rico and her husband is from Nicaragua. Coffee was a big part of the couple’s upbringing, and they loved that it always brought people together. In June 2020, they opened their online cafe, Café Rebelde. The couple started by delivering bags of coffee from countries like Nicaragua and Peru.

“It was always something we did with our family and friends,” Carissa Vega said. “There really wasn’t a great place to have coffee…we had to share that with people. So that was really it, it suited us perfectly. It connected us to our culture, to our ancestors, but also to our community.

Café Rebelde’s dark roast is from Nicaragua, their medium roast is from Peru, and their dark roast decaffeinated is from Mexico. They also now serve a new blend of espresso from Honduras, Guatemala and Brazil.

A coffee truck supporting people of color

Café Rebelde prides itself not only on the quality of its products, but also on its support of independent farmers and local cooperatives in Mexico, Central and South America who grow their coffee in “harmony with nature”.

“They grow it in the shade with love and care,” Vega said. “These aren’t big companies just coming in and chopping down forests bringing in pesticides, they’re growing them properly.”

Just months after starting their online cafe business, their virtual retail store became a pop-up cafe outside the Woodbridge Public Library. During the summer, Café Rebelde added a mobile truck to its list of offers. With their recent expansion into a mobile store, the couple can connect with more people across the state, having the ability to offer more beverages, services and products to people looking for a cup of coffee. ethics.

For their coffee truck, they serve hot drinks, iced lattes, and specialty lemonades ranging from $3 to $6. Café Rebelde also partners with bakeries run by people of color.

“Whether it’s pastries, gluten-free cookies, or our coffee,” Vega said. “We really want to provide a space for these companies to also thrive and collaborate with them.”

Café Rebelde has partnered with Bread and Chocolate, a Latino-owned bakery in Hamden, and sources its gluten-free and vegan cookies through Partake Foods, a black-owned cookie company. The coffee company also sources chocolate-covered espresso beans from Bedré Fine Chocolate, a Native American-owned chocolate company.

Bethany’s Mendel Ezagui is a regular at the Rebelde cafe at the Woodbridge Town Library. He said their coffee was a bit “fresher” and “just tasted more like coffee”.

“I love coming to see Mauriel,” Ezagui said. “I love his coffee. It’s always nice to spend time with him. »

According to Vega, the overall feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I’m so excited to share something I love with people, and to hear that they love it back, it was beautiful.”

People can buy a bag of Café Rebelde coffee from their online retail store, visit their regular location twice a week outside the Woodbridge Public Library, or take advantage of their monthly subscription service.

“I would like everyone to know that we are out there, come visit us, support us,” Carissa said. “I would like people to know that they can get really good quality coffee and it doesn’t have to cost them an arm and a leg.”

Cafe in West Hartford

J.René Coffee Roasters, a Latino-owned coffee storefront in West Hartford, shares a respect for its culture and ancestry through its customer experience.

José René Martinez, the Puerto Rican owner of J.René Coffee Roasters, explains on his website that coffee can serve as a way to connect people through meaningful conversation while creating long-term memories in the process. That’s why he doesn’t describe his store as a coffee shop, but rather as a “handcrafted coffee gathering place.”

Besides J.René Coffee Roaster, Martinez also owns VICTUS Coffee, where $2 from each bag goes to local and global advocacy organizations while supporting social causes while providing customers with the taste of quality specialty coffee.

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