Café Imports Launches Women Coffee Producers Initiative

Women coffee producers are often unseen and under compensated  at origin. Café Imports hopes to rally against that with a new initiative aimed at placing premiums on female-produced coffees.

BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE

Café Imports announced a new initiative highlighting female coffee producers. Certain lots in the green coffee catalog will be designated Women Coffee Producer, and with that designation, Café Imports will ensure that these coffees are sourced through a collective with female growers (at least 25% of active members), representative of long-term relationships between the farmers and Café Imports, and that a premium will be paid directly to the group.

In many countries, women are disproportionally excluded from the money exchange portion of the coffee supply chain, although their labor is fundamental to the production of coffee. Recently, the SCAA released a white paper illuminating gender issues at origin, and noted while women are the primary laborers in the growing and harvesting stage of coffee production, they are largely absent from the transport and sale of coffee. Most women see no return on their labor, and yet are generally expected to contribute to both production and duties inside the home. œMy experience in coffee producing countries is that women are expected to take care of the children and keep the house in order, so when there is an issue like for instance someone is injured or ill, women have to step up and do both things,  says Andrew Miller, Founder and Partner at Café Imports.

Women in producing countries face issues regarding wages and unfair distribution of labor.
Women in producing countries face issues regarding wages and unfair distribution of labor.

Café Imports hopes to change that narrative. By specifically highlighting farmers and cooperatives that are inclusive of women at all stages of the coffee production chain, including selling, they hope to increase female empowerment and ensure equity amongst members of cooperatives. As a coffee roaster, you can pick coffees with the Women Coffee Producer designation, and know that part of your purchase will fund projects aimed at improving the lives of female producers.

Women often account for the back end of coffee production--picking, sorting, processing--but not for the transport or sale, which means that their labor often goes uncompensated.
Women often account for the back end of coffee production–picking, sorting, processing–but not for the transport or sale, which means that their labor often goes uncompensated.

One of the groups Café Imports works with is AMACA (Assocation de Mujeres Productoras Agropecuarias del Cauca), which is located in the Colombian municipality of El Tambo, Cauca. This cooperative is comprised of 140 female farmers, most of whom own a hectare (a hectare roughly represents about 5,000 coffee trees) or less of land, and are also the heads of their households. Luz Maria Sanchez, legal representative of the AMACA, notes that their cooperative needs a cupping lab and a place for members to store green coffee, and the premium paid by Café Imports will likely go to support that initiative.

Most of the women in AMACA are the heads of their households, and take home wages from the sale of their coffee and labor.
Most of the women in AMACA are the heads of their households, and take home wages from the sale of their coffee and labor.

In the past, premiums have gone to support organic vegetable gardens, dry-mill facilities, and education and training programs. The premium profits are meant to meet the needs that the women see in their cooperatives and communities, which are very different depending on the country you look at. œThey are different in different countries because coffee is different. In Guatemala, producers deliver red cherries but in Colombia they deliver 125K of dried parchment. Mexico, for instance has had a great exodus of men to the US to find jobs where they can be gone for many years or not return at all,  shares Andrew.

AMACA is a collection of 140 female producers in Colombia.
AMACA is a collection of 140 female producers in Colombia, and Cafe Imports is working with them and other groups in countries all over the world.  

Along with this relationship, Café Imports also works with groups in Guatemala, Mexico, and Sumatra, and hopes to expand their reach as the program continues. And Café Imports makes it easy to find and pick these coffees. If you go to their website under ˜Offerings,’ you’ll find a tab that lets you see all the coffees currently being offered under the Women Coffee Producer label. Look for it to expand and include coffees from multiple origins soon.

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