Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Beautiful beans from women farmers on Peru’s west coast
Back in 2004, a year after we began roasting our own coffee here at Zingerman’s, about 3700 miles almost due south of Ann Arbor, Isabel Uriarte Latorre co-founded Café Femenino, an organization dedicated to empowering women in the coffee world. From the get-go, she built the business to support women coffee farmers financially, spiritually, and socially. The project allows women to produce high-quality coffee and get paid commensurately. Instead of being stuck bargaining with aggressive buying agents out on the marketplace, they’re able to focus on better farming practices, learning sustainable finance, practice collaboration and care for the land and their communities.
Thinking about what I wrote about above, there’s no question that one of the big byproducts of their work has been to raise the hope of the women farmers who are part of this special project. Café Femenino has most certainly done all six things on the Hope Star—it’s given the women farmers, who had been held down by male-dominated market forces, a clear vision of a more positive future. It’s offered very practical and tactical ways to get there; instead of being dismissed out of hand, they are treated with dignity; the focus on quality and higher price paid for their higher quality coffee shows them how much their work matters; they’ve learned better techniques for growing, harvesting, and fermenting the beans, and they’re part of a creative caring coop. More concretely, they get:
Legal rights to the land on which they farmLeadership positions within the cooperativesFinancial and business decision-making power
Direct payment for their coffee, including a Café Femenino premium
You can taste the product of the hope and hard work of these female farmers every time you sip a cup of the Corral de Piedra Peru coffee. It’s super tasty, nicely toasty. Someone here said it reminds them of Graham crackers, which resonates with me. Brewed with the Clever method over at the Coffee Company, it’s got a hint of milk chocolatiness that’s pretty marvelous. The Chemex brew is even smoother still—light, elegant, lovely, a poetic cup with which to start your day, or enliven your afternoon. The coffee makes me think of what the Peruvian poet Sandro Chiri wrote when he reminisced about, “The aroma of toasted coffee, of hot bread, of resonant Spanish.”