Take a Sip of Coffee and Help Change Lives! July 10, 2014

(photo credit: http://www.coffeecan.org/)

Reflect for a moment,  on the days that you spend at work, your commute, the time you wake up in the morning, the amount of hours you focus on your job. What moves you to go to work everyday?  What do you get out of your job? Is it the money and stability that keeps you going? Is it passion?  Maybe it’s a mixture of all those things.

Now, I want you to take a moment to imagine that you put all of those hours and care into your work, and someone else takes your money, someone else takes the credit for your labor.  Even imagine that this person abuses you, hitting you if you don’t do your job, or maybe they undermine your confidence and emotionally abuse you.  Imagine suddenly that everything you have, everything you’ve worked for is owned by another.

Shocking to us, but this is not an imagined reality for many women in underdeveloped coffee communities. This is the reality they live and work in. Many women have decided to move forward from the cycle of poverty and abuse and are now working toward a solution by creating a woman owned coffee co-op which they named Café Femenino.

 (Credit: https://www.facebook.com/CafeFemeninoFoundation)

Roselia Roblero Macario, producer in Mexico for Café Femenino, took the responsibility of supporting her family and her husband’s family after she was widowed.  

Café Femenino developed in 2003 in Peru.  It developed with the mission to help women in the coffee producing communities.  Café Femenino supports women’s equality and aims to reduce the rate of abuse that occurs in the coffee communities.  Since its start in Peru, it has grown to other countries including Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Rwanda.

In many rural areas where coffee is produced, women work long hours in the home for their families, as well as outside with the coffee.  Their husbands control the income the coffee brings in and often do not save any for the family’s needs.   If families have money to send children to school, the boys are sent to school, while young girls stay at home and help in the kitchen.  Many girls are married by 13 and having children shortly after (in some instances, the husbands abandon their young families when they go off to look for work).  This perpetuates the cycle of inequality occurring in these communities.  Café Femenino aims to give women autonomy in their lives.

The women who produce with Café Femenino separate their product from men; they want credit for the care and attention they put into their work.  Café Femenino producers are paid directly from the co-ops and are donated a percentage from the roaster who buys their coffee.  This is exciting! Why? Because whenever you drink a Café Femenino cup at Red Whale Coffee you are directly helping women in other countries.

The grants for Café Femenino are unique because they don’t just focus on some lofty idea that the donors think up, the panel listens to the needs of the women in coffee communities.  In this way, they invest money towards what matters most for women and their families.  They measure the benefit of each cause and choose one that will benefit the maximum amount of families and communities.  For example, one project they worked on was the Colombia Kitchen Project.  This project focused on the health of the girls and women who traditionally prepare food for the family.  Many women spend great deal of time in the kitchen and develop respiratory illness.

 The kitchens were rebuilt with sustainability in mind, using bamboo rather than palm trees (which are beginning to grow scarce because they are commonly used in building).  Bamboo grows quickly and can be used instead of the palm tree, helping the palm tree become prevalent again.  To help with respiratory illness many women experience, the project focused on building well-ventilated stoves.

(photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/CafeFemeninoFoundation)

What is most apparent when looking at Café Femenino is their focus on promoting dignity within their communities.  By giving autonomy to women who work with Café Femenino, they give them the catalyst to change their families and their lives, empowering individuals to make change in their life. Show your support for their hard work by learning more about them and trying their amazing coffee!

For more information about Café Femenino and the amazing work they are doing check out their website: https://www.coffeecan.org/

Also check out their documentary Strong Coffee (stay tuned for a possible viewing of the documentary at Red Whale Coffee)

And in the meantime watch this video to hear about some the amazing women who started out Café Femenino and their aspirations for their project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFRWThFY3lI

And of course, come down to Red Whale Coffee and try out our Café Femenino coffee from the hard working women in Rwanda! This chocolatey coffee has a nutty flavor that develops as the coffee cools; it is delicious to the bottom of the cup!