Is the coffee industry a male sector?

Equality - Industry

Although coffee is for everyone, the coffee industry is a male sector. Due to the social dynamics of the world we inhabit, in coffee it has happened as it did in the world of cooking: from being a task performed by women in the domestic sphere without any recognition, it has become a professionalized and specialized job, a challenge for men. However, the advantage of the sector has been to be born in a world and in an era much more advanced in terms of equality. Thus, although it is true that the majority of baristas and roasters in coffee shops and competitions are men, it is true that in the no longer so incipient specialty coffee industry more and more women have been incorporated. In NOMAD, 18 out of 39 are women, and we would not be the same without them.

However, outside the spotlight, there is the invisible work of thousands of women all over the planet that takes place in coffee plantations. They plant, care for the crops, harvest, and participate in the processing of coffee, but their names do not appear anywhere. They are part of the families that work the coffee at its origin and it is because of their efforts that we can enjoy a perfect cup of coffee.

With the idea of making the work of women coffee growers more visible, the Women and Coffee initiative was born from Asobombo - an association of producers who value their coffee in order to be able to reverse it in sustainable practices on their coffee plantations. In the Colombian regions of Huila, Cauca, Nariño and Tolima, 85 women producers see today how their coffee is different from the rest because of its history and because it is cultivated under the requirements of the organic certificate that it possesses. In addition, Asobombo ensures that the remuneration received by the producers is dignified. In collaboration with the coffee exporter Sucafina, its coffee is now available at NOMAD for espresso and filter coffee.

"The Colombian coffee industry owes a lot to women", says Alejandra Imbachi, daughter of one of Asobombo's producers, "We have Juan Valdés and Professor Yarumo, but we have to give a voice to the women who grow coffee and who have their own history of struggle and survival, and who are often victims of the armed conflict that is fought in the areas where they grow coffee".

To this day, the work of a woman who cultivates her coffee plantation is very tiring: they are the head of the household, they are in charge of the administration of their plots, which have a size of between 1 and 5 hectares, and of all the actions required for production, from preparing the land to pulping and drying, including the hiring of personnel, when the means are available.

Asobombo has also done its best to improve the lives of the women participating in this project. A thorough analysis of the life circumstances of each one of them revealed that they suffered from a lack of equity in the family nucleus; that their land was wasted for growing food, they did not eat a balanced diet and were overly dependent on supermarkets; that many of them did not have a good knowledge of the coffee they produced or how to improve its quality.

"In this way, the association created spaces and dynamics so that the women could understand the importance of their work, established food safety practices and training in healthy eating and promoted training spaces to improve the productive capacity of the coffee plantations and to increase the quality of the post-harvest processes", explains Jhon Edison Diaz, manager of Asobombo. The implementation of these measures has optimized both the work of the 85 coffee producers and the lives of them and their families, reaching a total of 285 people.

"Our parents want to give us better options for the future to get us off the farms but, when we leave, we see that within the farm there are still many options for us that will allow us to increase the family's quality of life," says Imbachi, who recognizes that generational replacement is very difficult in the countryside today. "But the city is also not as easy as it seems. We need to have an impact on the lives of producers and on coffee growing so that there is no generational handover, but rather an addition of children to the family business. Farming is no longer seen as a punishment: today it is an opportunity to work in a coffee plantation. Seeing your name on a sack and your coffee being sold in another country motivates people who want to do well".