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This International Coffee Day, Let’s Celebrate Coffee’s Female Power Players

Known to many as liquid gold, coffee is loved and treasured by the world over. But have you ever wondered where coffee got its start?

Its origins can be traced back centuries ago to coffee forests in Ethiopia. There’s even an old legend that says Abyssinian goat herder, Kaldi, first discovered the beans when he noticed his goats had more energy after eating berries from a particular tree. Kaldi ended up telling the local monastery who then made a drink from the berries and found it kept them alert during long prayers. Shortly after, news had spread of this magical drink from the East all the way to the Arabian Peninsula. By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemini district of Arabia and eventually made its way to Egypt, Syria, Persia, Turkey and then finally Europe.

Fast forward to today where coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks, so much so that we even have an entire day dedicated to celebrating the good stuff. What’s more, this year’s theme celebrates ‘Women in Coffee.’

International Coffee Day 2018 is all about paying homage to women and raising awareness around the need for equality in the coffee sector. Of course, with coffee being one of the most consumed drinks in the world, it’s only fair we give credit where credit is due.

When we get a daily dose of the good stuff, we really don’t think about what goes into the entire process of producing coffee. From planting and harvesting to administration, creating coffee isn’t easy. Can you imagine putting in all that work and not getting the merit you deserve for your hard work?

Contributing factors like lack of access to land and technology often leave female coffee producers with lower yields and income compared to their male peers. When it comes to coffee, it’s so important to highlight the need for equality and acknowledge the integral role women play. If there’s one woman who’s doing both of these things, it’s Fatima Ismael.

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Nicaragua women's growing collective Las Hermanas has a long-term relationship with @peetscoffee that has yielded many incredible cups of coffee over the years and has had a transformational impact on the women of Las Hermanas. Thanks in part to the partnership, Las Hermanas has grown to become a model for women's co-ops producing sustainable, high-quality coffee. We were thrilled to see the staff of Peet's Coffee and Las Hermanas' leader Fatima Ismael celebrate this success together this week at Peet's Coffee headquarters in Emeryville, CA! #LasHermanas #Soppexcca #PeetsCoffee #RelationshipCoffee #PeopleAndPlanet #GenderEquality #FairTrade #FairTradeCoffee #Sustainability #SpecialtyCoffee #CoffeeGram

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Fatima is the manager of Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias (UCA) Soppexcca cooperative, a co-operative union in northern Nicaragua. Founded in 1997, the cooperative has grown to become one of the most sophisticated in the country.

Fatima studied agronomy with the hopes of working in the coffee sector. During this time, coffee production was often done through the government, with little quality control. Many producers didn’t have access to information about where their coffee was being sold. Equipped with a strong desire to change the industry from the inside, Fatima took over the Soppexcca cooperative with the aim to empower female farmers. From there, Fatima developed a revolutionary business plan that aimed to improve the lives of its members and local community.

Under Fatima’s leadership, Soppexcca established the first coffee lab in Jinotega and created an initiative that looked to train coffee farmers about the importance of coffee quality. Leading the way on equality initiatives and education, 40% of Soppexcca’s members today are women. Not only does Soppexcca produce and export coffee, it provides health programs, education and equal decision-making processes that ensure every member participates, particularly its female members.

Fatima is proof that closing the gender gap in the coffee industry and incorporating women in leadership roles is both possible and beneficial to the wider industry. Fighting for women’s equality in coffee will not only bring wider economic benefits and improved welfare for rural communities, but also higher productivity to help meet the growing global demand for coffee.

So, for the love of your cup of joe, let’s push for more women in coffee.

 

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