Cafe Femenino – Quality Coffee Bringing Equality to Life
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Cafe Altura Coffee was founded in 1979 with the goal of delivering high-quality, organic products to the United States, while supporting practices that ensure the vitality of the land, wildlife, farmers and their families – all of whom share the space required to grow the finest Organic Coffees. Cafe Altura acknowledges these principles in the activities of the Cafe Femenino Foundation, and in support of our mutual goals Cafe Altura is proud to offer their Organic Peruvian Coffee.
Origin: Lambayeque region, Peru
Notes:This coffee is organic and Fair Trade certified, the latter meaning it was purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. Cafe Femenino is an organization that supports women farmers and their families in coffee growing communities.
Blind Assessment: Rich, deep aroma: nut, a hint of chocolate. In the cup soft acidity, lightly syrupy mouthfeel, and a distinct and pleasing sweet cocoa note complicated by roasted nut. Gently rich, though rather short finish.
Who should drink it: Delicately crisp, pleasingly cocoa-toned coffee with impeccable environmental and socio-economic credentials.
The Café Femenino® Story
The Café Femenino® story in Peru continues to be an inspiration to all of us at Organic Products Trading Company. When we first started this project in 2004 with 464 women coffee producers, we were not sure what the reactions to this concept would be by either roasters or consumers. We did understand that this was a truly a ground breaking initiative and we were compelled to move forward. For our company, there was no question that Café Femenino was an important project with global implications.
What we could not predict was if the market would accept the product and if all of our efforts would help these women coffee producers. Today we can answer many of these questions, and in all cases the answer is a resounding, yes!
For the past three summers we have visited with the women coffee producers in Peru, traveling to many of these remote communities and learning about their lives and the effects that Café Femenino has had. For the past three years they held the Annual Encounter of the Women of the CECANOR Cooperative. Each year we have been able to observe the personal growth of these women.
In the first meeting we participated, which coincided with the first production year of Café Femenino, we shared with them the final version of the Café Femenino logo and talked about each of our expectations and commitments to each other to insure the success of Café Femenino. As the women spoke, they hung their heads or hid their faces while speaking. They seemed fearful and unsure of themselves. Yet, in their eyes I could see hope. Many of the women had their children with them for there was no one who helped them with their care.
In the second years meeting one of the glaring differences was the absence of their children. I asked them where their children were, and their response was amazing. They told me their children were home and their husbands were taking care of them as the women were attending a business meeting! I knew gaining the support of their husbands was huge progress for just one year. Their demeanor had also changed though they were hesitant to share with me when asked how Café Femenino was affecting their lives.
After the first hand was raised to talk to me, hands around the room began to wave. Everyone was excited to share their successes. The women told me that with Café Femenino they felt like for the first time in their lives they had some control over their lives. They told me they had ever had any money of their own. They told me that their husbands were supporting them and they were supporting each other. Tears of joy and hope rolled down my face. It was possible. We were changing lives, families and communities. I felt pride for these brave and pioneering women. They were my inspiration and my shining lights.
The year 2006 brought more profound changes. The group of women coffee producers now had grown to 755 women. One of the things the women love the most about Café Femenino was the meetings and the relationships they were now developing with other women. Relationships with other women never existed before Café Femenino, but in 2006 190 meetings were held with the women to provide capacity building activities.
Café Femenino was the program that dreams were built on and of. In this year the women had grown even more. The shy but hopeful women of one year ago had grown to women of purpose and vision, women who were now becoming dynamic with voices that would be heard. In each of their zonal organizations they had developed rudimentary business plans – ideas they shared with us of how they could grow even more, creating more opportunities for themselves through thoughtful and creative planning.
Some of their ideas were to begin small animal breeding projects and seed projects, that in time, would help feed their families, improve their health and provide additional income by selling the excess animals and produce into their local markets. They also had a plan to roast and sell their Café Femenino coffee at the larger cities and in the airport in Chiclayo, Peru.
Yes, they had a number of ideas. They even brought some of their prototype products that they created and wanted to sell to show us. These were not the same women we met only a few years ago; these were women who now knew they had value. These were women who are creating a new generation.
These ideas have been drafted into grant requests that have been submitted to the Café Femenino Foundation, and this past year the foundation worked to raise funds to provide the seed capital to give these women a chance to make their dreams come true. For roasters that are donating a portion of your proceeds to the foundation, these women are so grateful for the opportunities that these funds provide.
Additionally, this past year a grant from the foundation was given to the women providing funds allowing 600 daughters of women producers to go to school. The foundation hopes to be able to continue to supply funds so that the future girls will also have this opportunity for education.
But for all of the changes that have occurred with the women over the past few years, the most astonishing change is that seen in the men. It is a change we never expected. In just a short time we are seeing and hearing the men verbalize their support for the women. The cooperative board of directors told us that Café Femenino is the most important work they have ever done.
The men have acknowledged the abuse they were responsible for and are admitting that they now see the errors in their thinking. Today they tell us how much they value their wives. The women have smiles on their faces and a gentle touch for their husbands, in their own way accepting what was and appreciating what now is and dreaming about what can be in the future.
Written by Gay Smith
Organic Products Trading Co.
Co-Founder Café Femenino Coffee Project and Café Femenino Foundation