After the trip, Casey Lalonde, cofounder of Girls Who Grind Coffee, reflected that the cuppings seemed like a valuable exercise, but she says, “I was a little surprised that it was the first time cupping for some of the growers.” During the trip, she exchanged contact information with a few of the producers and asked them what they thought of the cupping. One of the farmers, Yeny, replied: “By trying the coffee flaws, we realized what we have to do to improve and pay more attention to our crops to provide a better cup of coffee. It is clear that it is not only the crops but the entire process that is done from the planting to the sale that can have an effect on the cup. It was very useful because trying and experiencing things makes it clearer.”
Everyone we spoke with after the trip mentioned that perhaps the most powerful moment of the week they spent together was when the Cafe Imports group visitors took the time to stand up before the women coffee growers to introduce their companies, talk about the obstacles that they’ve faced as women in specialty coffee, and to share their feelings as they looked out over the room of dedicated producers—people as passionate about coffee as they are.
“We had at the same time a feeling of sorority,” Francine says. “Farmers and roasters sharing this great experience through coffee—being able to know them, to know their realities for them. It was incredible.”
Lisa Lawson, founder of Dear Green Coffee in Glasgow, Scotland, also felt the power: “Being a female business owner, I know of the hurdles of living and working in a man’s world without the added challenges of being in a developing country,” she says. “Daiba Miladay’s farm (La Cascada) story was incredible for me. She started her farm from nothing, received loans, and has ambitious yet achievable targets. Her husband sold his grandparents’ land to help fund her farm, and her father was heling to look after her children. Daiba said she ‘started from nothing and achieved a lot,’ and this really rung true with me as I have done the similar in a different part of the industry, in a different part of the world.”