In early October I took a trip to NYC to attend the NY Coffee Fest. There were two key events I was so honored and excited to be a part of!
Panel: Gender equity in coffee value chain, and why gender matters
I was invited by Amaris Gutierrez-Ray, founder of Women in Coffee Project and director of coffee roasting at Joe Coffee in NY, to speak on a panel about gender equity in the coffee value chain along with 2 other amazing women. The goal: spread awareness about gender equity across the supply chain, and offer tangible ways to engage in supporting women in coffee.
The women next to me were Delfina Porras Solis of Vamay Coffee, a producer in Costa Rica, and Giselle Barrera of Latinxs in Coffee and Coffee Business School based in El Salvador. Delfina runs Vamay Coffee with her mother and sister, and was able to share relatable challenges they face as smallholder producers, and what it means to be women in the coffee farming industry. From access to financial management and fair pricing, to export partnerships and tackling the effects of climate change. Delfina and her family are in this business to support their family, grow delicious coffee, and be a part of the future of coffee, while many of their peers have had to sell their farms just to keep food on the table.
For many years, Giselle Barrera has been working with coffee farmers all over central america with non-profit organizations and independent consulting. She shared the complexity all producers face, and specific set backs women are up against in a male-dominated culture and industry. She shared the emphasis on education. Women often lack educational tools to manage their farms effectively and sustainably, and to know and advocate for the quality of their product.
My perspectives were specifically on how to build a business around this mission of supporting women, how to communicate the value there, and why it's important. In our consumer-driven society, this is definitely a challenge in general terms, but I have found when I am able to talk with folks directly, the notion of buying products from these women to support their business isn’t a hard thing to grasp. A key challenge I face is that there are a lot of roasters offering delicious coffee, at many price points. Communicating the value behind my brand, and the stories of the women I source from in a few seconds is the biggest challenge.
Women produced coffee cupping!
First, a ‘cupping’ is an industry term to taste coffee in a specific way that eliminates any outside factors. Amaris and Giselle collaborated to present an array of coffees by women producers from El Salvador for this cupping event, and they invited me to add coffees from some of the producers I worked with. We had 2 tables lined on both sides, hosted and facilitated by the Joe Coffee team at the Joe Proshop. The event was open to anyone to participate, and we filled the room with coffee industry folks as well as average coffee enthusiasts. It was such a great experience tasting these delicious coffees together, getting different perspectives on what flavors came through. This event was truly a highlight of the weekend, highlighting the fact that there is an interest and appetite to celebrate coffee by women producers!
NYC, I ❤️U