Our approach to promoting gender equity in coffee-producing communities

Women carry out much of the labor in the coffee supply chain, from tending to the farm to processing and sorting, yet receive little compensation for their contribution and direct impact on the quality of the end product. Meanwhile, men overwhelming occupy positions of power in the chain where they are able to capture more of the value of the product, regardless of their labor contribution and potential to improve coffee quality or quality of life for the family. 

Given this inequality, we believe that promoting gender equity is not only the right thing to do, but that there is a strong business case for investing in women for the benefit of the entire supply chain. Through our work supporting women farmers with trainings in cupping and best production practices and connecting them with buyers through the Relationship Coffee Modelwe recognize several important outcomes:

Equipping women with knowledge and skills in cupping and best production practices improves cup quality and volume. Our internal cupping data even indicates that women-grown lots return a higher cup score than non-women-grown lots from the same cooperative. 

We also know that value from coffee returning to women means greater investment in the family, leading to improved livelihoods. Studies show that women invest 90 cents of every dollar they earn in the household; this investment leads to transformational change in coffee-growing communities, increasing supply chain sustainability.

 

Our impact on women farmers

Our story of sourcing women's coffee begins in 2003, when we partnered with the Las Hermanas women's growing collective in Nicaragua. Leading roasters like Peet's Coffee and Cafe Moto became long-term buyers of this high-quality coffee, which we still source to this day. In many ways, the Las Hermanas brand helped put women growers on the map in the specialty coffee industry, highlighting the possibilities of strong, dedicated women farmers to thrive in marketplace.

With the success of Las Hermanas, we began to seek out and develop relationships with women growers from around the globe, and are fortunate to have developed particularly strong relationships with women farmers in Rwanda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia that continue to grow. During that time, we've achieved some important milestones:

  • We've sourced 8.69 million pounds of women's coffee since 2003, when we imported our first women's coffee, Las Hermanas.
  • In 2018, we sourced 1.2 million pounds of women-'s coffee, which had an average cup score of 84 points.
  • In 2013, we partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies to create the Relationship Coffee Institute. Sustainable Growers, as it has been recently renamed, is an independent nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of coffee farmers, especially women, through technical Training and market access. Since its launch, they have enrolled more than 30,000 women farmers, making it the largest gender-based coffee program in the world. Their innovative, market-based initiatives in Rwanda have already more than doubled productivity, quality, and income for thousands of participating women farmers. 
  • Since we’re not experts in gender equity, we partner with them to enhance our impact. In 2017, Sustainable Harvest® and Sustainable Growers collaborated with CQI’s Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE). Together, we piloted PGE’s Common Measurement Framework for Gender in Coffee, a new tool to improve the industry’s investments in gender equity. In 2019, we became sustaining members of the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA), a non-profit leading women's empowerment in the international coffee industry by organizing a global network of mission-driven coffee organizations through IWCA chapters.

Take action: Support women growers!

1. Purchase women-grown spot offerings

To view our current women-grown spot coffees available for immediate purchase, click here.

VIEW OUR WOMEN-GROWN SPOT OFFERINGS

 

2. Forward book women's coffees

Below you'll find a selection of women's coffees you can buy on a forward book basis.
Mujeres Cafeteras, Colombia

Coocentral’s Mujeres Cafeteras (Women’s Coffee) program started from an initiative to teach and empower 300 women coffee growers in the municipalities of Garzón, Pital, and El Agrado. Through Best Agricultural Practices training, the women learn technical skills in coffee harvesting, fermentation, and drying that they use to develop a differentiated cup profile with added value.

Fill out the form to forward book this coffee

Nyampinga, Rwanda

Since 2013 the women of Nyampinga have received training in agronomy, market access, and quality control from Sustainable Growers. The result of the farmer's hard work and enhanced knowledge of coffee production has been a resounding improvement in cup quality. Nyampinga coffees are among finest available in all of Rwanda.

Fill out the form to forward book this coffee

Soppexcca, Nicaragua

Like many cooperatives, there was a time when Soppexcca struggled with its financial management. However, beginning in the early 2000s, a charismatic and inspiring leader named Fatima Ismael led Soppexcca from a state of debt and low member trust to one of the most successful cooperatives in Nicaragua with solid businesses practices, extremely transparent operations, and progressive initiatives to improve gender equality within the co-op.

Fill out the form to forward book this coffee

 

COMUCAP, Honduras

COMUCAP is an organization of women growers who formed their own growing collective after suffering from domestic violence and economic insecurity due to gender discrimination. Empowered with new economic opportunity through specialty coffee and other products, many of the women have been able to purchase their own land, perpetuating economic stability and freedom while breaking a cycle of abuse.

Fill out the form to forward book this coffee

3. Donate to non-profit organizations leading the movement for gender equity in coffee

Donate to Sustainable Growers

Since 2013, Sustainable Growers has worked in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to help women and their families become professional suppliers of specialty coffee. On the farm, they support agricultural training to women-led cooperatives. Beyond the farm, they teach home roasting, cupping, barista and business skills. Once the coffee cooperatives in their program deliver gourmet coffee at high volumes, they help bring it to consumers. Learn how you can support their work here.

Donate today

Donate to the IWCA

The International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) leads women's empowerment in the international coffee industry by supporting and growing a network of self-organized, self-governing, women-led chapters across the globe. Give a boost to their critical work by making a donation here.

Donate today

Donate to the PGE

Founded by The Coffee Quality Institute, The The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) is building an industry-wide movement for greater gender equity in coffee-farming communities around the world. Click here to join the cause.

Donate today


 

Thank you to our partners for supporting our gender equity initiatives.

We couldn't support women farmers without the help of these value-driven organizations. We'd like to recognize and thank them for their support.

Interested in sourcing coffee from women farmers? Get in touch.

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