Celebrating Women in Coffee: International Coffee Day’s 2018 Focus

Celebrating Women in Coffee: International Coffee Day’s 2018 Focus

Posted on 10-09-2018
By Lydia

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Like Christmas, it comes just once a year. But, unlike Christmas – it’s not all fun and games (and overeating and over-drinking…). International Coffee Day is a day to celebrate coffee, and also to reflect on issues in the industry itself. This year, the International Coffee Organisation has chosen its focus to be the role of women in the coffee chain – applauding their hard work, and acknowledging the gender inequity inherent in both coffee farming and agriculture as a whole.

Aissa, our former coffee roaster

Why? Well, farming actually isn’t a man’s world. Not in any literal sense, anyway… here’s a few facts that might realign your thinking on what the ‘typical coffee farmer’ might look like:

  • Women take on 70% of all coffee fieldwork… but own just 15% of farmland, processing facilities and traded product
  • Women make up 43% of the labour force in agriculture… but receive just 5% of the relevant training
  • Women run 25-35% of coffee farms… and studies suggest giving women more opportunities would raise production on these farms by 20-30%
  • Women in coffee farming work a 15-hour day due to their work and home responsibilities… while men work just eight hours

So there’s a lot of women in farming… but nowhere near as many opportunities. And that’s why we think it’s great that International Coffee Day this year is specifically all about women, their contributions and the injustices they face in the coffee world.

Shout out to Victoria Concepcion Aguirra!

Victoria and Will

We heard about what the ICO were focusing on this year and thought – we want to get behind that! So what better time to bring back one particular coffee to our menu: the El Campanario. With its rich cocoa and raisin flavours, round body and grape-like acidity, this is a seriously special coffee. And, more importantly, it’s produced by an incredible farmer who is changing the coffee industry for better.

Victoria, a farmer in Honduras, started out with just 70 square metres of farmland to her name. She grew and sold commodity coffee at low prices, struggling to support her seven children, before deciding things had to change. And (luckily for us!) that’s when Will stepped in. Knowing he was heading over to Honduras to scope out speciality crops, Victoria worked hard to product a single batch for him to sample. And that showed Will that she had what it takes…

By providing some training and advice, on when to pick her cherries and how to refine her processing methods, Victoria was able to scale up – getting paid twice as much for her coffee and expanding the farm to three times its original size. Today, she’s a leading voice on coffee in her area – heading up a community group and inspiring new generations of women in coffee. And all it took was being given the opportunity, training and space to succeed. You can show your support and get your own bag here.

Changing attitudes in coffee

Maria and Will

For things to really change, we need to look at every level of the coffee supply chain. One action we’ve taken is choosing to keep working with Maria Olano, a logistics expert at the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC), despite insistence that Will liaise with a male employee instead. Another is specifically hiring a woman, Aissa, to work in our roastery, recognising raw talent and using it as an opportunity to redress the gender imbalance in this industry.

These are small things. But lots of small things lead to big things, so why not join us in celebrating women this International Coffee Day by brewing a batch of Victoria’s El Campanario?