Historically, coffee farming and production around the world has been considered a male-dominated industry, with men seen as doing most of the work. In reality, men and women labor side by side in coffee fields, with women involved alongside men in every part of the production chain. From planting and tending the coffee fields all the way through harvesting, sorting, processing, selling, buying, and roasting, women make up a significant part of the labor force and expertise that brings coffee all the way from the coffee farm to a shelf in your pantry.
However, an equal amount of work doesn’t mean an equal amount of pay, opportunity, or visibility.
The unfortunate fact is that, in many regions around the world, women are not given the same rights of ownership and market access as men. One 2018 report from the International Coffee Organization states that while up to 70% of the work of coffee production is done by women, coffee farms owned by women only make up about 20%-30% of the industry. As a result, women can have far lower access to coffee farming resources, knowledge, and assistance when compared to men.
In today’s blog post, we’d first like to introduce you to the Women Coffee Producers Program through Cafe Imports, a program that promotes women in the coffee industry and supports their efforts. Next, we’ll talk a little about how Driven participates in this program. Finally, we’d like to spotlight one of our own women in the industry to highlight women’s contributions throughout the coffee supply chain.
First up, a look at the Women Coffee Producers program:
What is the Women Coffee Producers Program?
The Cafe Imports Women Coffee Producers program seeks to aid women coffee farmers and their communities. The program provides recognition of women’s efforts in the coffee farming industry by offering education, technological assistance, financial assistance, and increased market access to coffees produced by women.
Women Coffees from Cafe Imports are sourced from women’s coffee cooperatives or mixed-gender cooperatives with the women’s coffee lots set aside and sold separately. To participate in the program, coffee bean quality and community guidelines must be followed by the cooperatives and farms who then receive the sales premiums paid for the women-produced coffee.
In some cases, the premiums earned by the sale of women-produced coffee go directly to the individual women producers. In other cases, the participating co-op or organization takes the premium and applies it to a community project or initiative (often chosen through a vote by the women members) to better the lives of women coffee producers and their families.
How does Driven participate in this program? Read on:
Our Support for Women Coffee Producers
Driven Coffee’s contribution to the Women Coffee Producers Program occurs directly through our relationship with the Asociación de Productores de Café Diferenciados y Especiales de Guatemala (ASPROCDEGUA).
ASPROCDEGUA has around 90 contributing women members participating in what they call their “Manos de Mujer” program. Each woman-owned coffee farm is small, averaging only 2 hectares, and produces a diversity of crops in addition to coffee. Through Manos de Mujer, ASPROCDEGUA is able to offer technical assistance, such as soil analysis, and social projects that focus on nutrition, education, and food security.
We source our Fair Trade certified Guatemala la Dama from women-run farms in the ASPROCDEGUA organization, paying a premium price for this women-produced coffee. Guatemalan coffee beans sourced from ASPROCDEGUA’s women-owned coffee farms create a sweet, balanced cup that’s the mark of a high-quality harvest from Huehuetenango’s rich volcanic soil and high elevation.
In return, our premiums are paid back to the women of ASPROCDEGUA through organization-provided soil improvements and other social projects. In 2020, for example, the organization was able to use the premium to offer women members their own dairy cows, giving these families access to better nutrition (plus, of course, the added availability of organic fertilizer).
We’re eager to hear how our contributions (and yours!) will benefit the livelihoods and community of ASPROCDEGUA’s women coffee producers in the future; we’ll keep you posted on what we learn! But for now, let’s wrap this post up with a spotlight on a woman at the other end of the coffee producing chain:
From Farm to Roast: Promoting Visibility for Women in the Coffee Industry
Male-centric representation isn’t just a problem out on the coffee farms; we’ve got plenty of that in the artisan coffee roasting industry, too.
To showcase the effort of women in our own part of the coffee production industry, we’d like you to meet our head roaster and production manager: Courtney Aronson!
Courtney oversees Driven’s entire roasting process. She’s the expert in charge of keeping each order fresh and on schedule, from the date of the roast to the quality checks that ensure the consistency of our small batch roasted coffees. Courtney works to sources our green coffees, is involved in creating new blends and flavor profiles, and has the exciting (okay, sometimes frantic) job of professionally packing and shipping the final product to your door. It may sound like we’re overworking her, don’t worry: Courtney has the production team at her side through the entire process (and she keeps them on their toes!).
With Courtney in charge of our Guatemala la Dama roasts, you can experience an artisan coffee that is both women-produced and artisan-roasted, from the hands of the ASPROCDEGUA Guatemalan coffee farm owners to the expertise at the helm of our own Minneapolis, Minnesota-based small batch Probat roaster. And every cup of Guatemala la Dama you enjoy contributes to the equality of the women of Huehuetenango among their coffee-growing peers.
If you haven’t tried it yet, be sure to add a bag of Guatemala la Dama to your next order. We know you’ll love its balanced sweet and citrus-y flavor.
Want to know more about the Women Coffee Producers program and its participating organizations? Check out the Cafe Imports Women Coffee Producers page and click through each region for more details.