If there’s one myth we’d like to bust in the coffee world, it’s the belief that coffee is “man’s work.” Millions of women grow, pick, deliver, sort, cup, and sell coffee—and that’s an abridged list. Women in coffee production face specific obstacles and challenges that are solely the result of gender bias: According to the World Bank, “Women in half of the countries in the world are unable to assert equal land or property rights despite legal protections,” and countless women in the producing world have the three full-time jobs of being the sole caretakers of farm, family, and homestead.
In 2011, Cafe Imports senior green-coffee buyer Piero Cristiani met a group of women from the CESMACH cooperative in Mexico who had revolutionized their role in the association: They fought to transfer their husbands’ co-op membership into their own names when the men emigrated or passed away—a process that is still blocked in many cooperatives. Piero proposed that the women deliver their coffee under a separate mark from their co-ed colleagues, and he arranged to pay a gender-equity premium for the coffee to compensate for the financial discrepancies that women farmers often experience—and a small but mighty movement was born as the Women Coffee Producers program.
Today, we work with women’s groups in five countries, sourcing their coffee at a premium that many of the organizations use for education, farm investments, medical care, diversification, and other projects that benefit their communities. These groups have grown, and our relationship with them—and our customers’ relationship with them—have deepened.
Women are not only integral to the supply stream, but they are also producing someof the finest coffees we’ve ever tasted. We think you’ll agree, and that’s why we want to highlight four women’s associations whose coffees we have in-store right now: