Growing and processing coffee is a difficult and labor-intensive job. This however, does not limit the job to a specific group of people in the industry. Everyone can do it if they work hard and can follow processing instructions. Some people can farm and process coffee far better than others which is why we have very specific processes for sourcing new coffees. The processes we use at Fig Leaf Coffee focus on a blind sampling of each coffee we source. I am not talking about putting on a blind fold and sampling each coffee. We label each coffee with a number, then we sample. For example, we may have 8 coffees from Guatemala we are considering. We label each container with a number of 1 thru 8. No names or identifying information is included. Then we sample. This eliminates bias and lets us focus on the coffee profiles and roasting results only. It’s almost like a science experiment.
I am here to help all of us understand what it means for a coffee to be “women produced”. We have already explained that we buy coffee based on taste and sampling with no bias. If it is produced by women, then we are happy to have it and promote it as such. It’s not just a gimmick to help us sell more coffee. The stamp on our packages helps differentiate this product in the sea of coffee dominated by men. This is helping women develop businesses more fully in difficult parts of the world.
Understanding the process of producing coffee and where coffee is grown is important. Countries that grow and produce coffee are largely developing countries. These places mostly lag behind the US in things like workplace safety, equality for workers, and pay standards for all. Women’s rights and equal pay for women are difficult subjects to unfold in these places. This leads us to women’s roll in the coffee industry, specifically the growing and processing sector of coffee. It takes a lot of work for a woman to own a farm successfully in these developing parts of the world due to cultural differences and long-standing traditions. The hard work is now paying off for all of the women producers. We’re finding more coffees produced by women that score (and taste) better than the others we’ve sampled.
The women produced coffees we’re now carrying come from both women’s cooperatives, and from the women members of mixed-gender cooperatives whose coffees are separated out from the main lots. The coffees score between 85–88 points, and the women are paid a premium per pound for their coffee. There is also the potential for further rewards (premiums) for those microlot coffees that cup at 88 points and higher. The women often choose to apply the premiums to projects in their communities, such as educational efforts and increased health-care access, but there are no stipulations to the use of the additional funds paid.
It is that time of year again when we get in a few new lots from Ethiopia. We have just released our new woman owned Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Bedhatu Jibicho, which is very reminiscent of one we had a few years back from Banko Gotiti. We are almost always stunned by what we can locate and how it tastes in the cup.
The name of the coffee you are drinking is very important. Why is so important…it’s just coffee right? Wrong! You are participating in the livelihood of dozens of families that have produced the coffee in your mug. Your simple morning (or afternoon & evening) drink impacts everyone from the farmer, processor, bagger, shipper, trucker, and finally the roaster and retail staff.
Well, we made it another year by a whisker. I want to thank everyone for all your help and support. We are wiser, smarter and more experienced running this business. Our products and retail customer base grew a great deal. This year we saw coffee quality increase from just about every country while supply was hindered by COVID and Leaf Rust.