The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias.
The truth is that coffee remains very much a man’s world, with women often consigned to labour roles and disproportionately less employed in leadership positions, or owners of their own land. We’ve made it part of our sourcing model to increase the volume of coffee we buy from female led farms, which last year amounted to 35% of the coffee we purchased.
Meet the women who produce your coffee
We’re privileged to work with many female growers whose skills and expertise in coffee have helped them to challenge the status quo and become leaders in their field. These are just some of the exceptional women we partner with.
Karla (left) was just 17 years old when she produced the exceptional El Triunfo. Born into a coffee growing family and with education difficult to obtain, coffee was the logical choice for her.
As well as receiving assistance from her family, Karla is also a member of the Asomuprisma Women’s Association. This collective provides support and training for female growers, including workshops for processing, management and exporting. It is through Asomuprisma that she met us, which Karla says, “Has been a great economic support, as Pact pays far above the market price. We would like to have more direct involvement with clients the world over, like we do with Pact.”
In a country where there is still a lot of “machismo” and the majority of coffee producers are men, the experience, solidarity and help of the women in Asomuprisma has been invaluable. Karla is now 26, and whilst not much has drastically changed socially from when she started, she says, “The government and banks are focusing and investing more and more in female growers. Though many young people here want to leave for big cities, I want to stay as I see a future in coffee.”
After surviving the Rwandan genocide that took her husband’s life, Epiphanie inherited his farm and dedicated herself to becoming an expert in speciality coffee.
Several years and many awards later, she founded Bufcoffee, a thriving powerhouse of a farmers cooperative. Bufcoffee produces and exports coffee, but more than that, they also empower 4,608 women and coffee farmers socially and economically. By providing training and sharing information - most instrumentally on how to increase coffee yield - they have had a huge impact on the farming industry in their region.
Epiphanie is now the biggest employer in her local community, and in 2020 we were happy to purchase 32 cows for Bufcoffee farmers - a gift that provides fertiliser, nutrition and an additional source of income through milk sales.
We first met Donatille during a visit to Rwanda. Will, our Head of Coffee, was invited to the homes of several local coffee-growing families, alongside Bufcoffee manager Alloy (Epiphanie’s son!). It was then that he had the opportunity to taste coffees grown by just one family, including Donatille’s. Usually, small garden-like plots like hers would be processed at large washing stations, as is the normal practice in Rwanda, so this was a rare chance to sample coffee from a single plot. Will was blown away by the incredible clarity of Donatille’s coffee, which is a harmonious combination of blackcurrant and ginger notes and a delicate orange acidity.
Donatille’s tiny patch of land only yields tiny amounts of green coffee per year. Since meeting her, we’ve supported her in improving her farming processes even further with a few small but impactful purchases - a spray canister, face mask, pruning saw, shears and (for fertiliser) a goat!
Exceptionally rare and scoring an incredible 91 points, you’ll be able to sample her eponymous Limited Edition coffee for a short time only at the end of March.
We are happy to have a longstanding relationship with Victoria, which started when we tasted her first coffee, Mi Bendicion, remotely. The extraordinary quality was evident and we’ve been working with her ever since.
Victoria used the premium she received for that first lot to buy a farm in disrepair for her son, Mariano. After a lot of work and TLC, that farm became Finca Pact - named after yours truly!
It was when we went to visit her farm for the first time that her local community realised how impressive her coffee was, and that it was receiving international recognition. So, they made her the community coffee quality leader. A centre was even built next to her home, where she helps local farmers improve the quality of their coffee.
The coffee you drink makes a difference
Look out for the Championing Gender Equality symbol on our coffees. By purchasing coffees from female led farms, you are helping to make real change in the coffee industry.