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Our Colombian Café Femenino has Women's Empowerment in Each Cup

by Laurel Zoff Pelton |

We are beyond excited to bring you our new Colombian Café Femenino coffee, not just because of its power as a delicious, high-quality single origin coffee, but because of its power as a tool of social change. Coming to you from the COSURCA collective of farms in Cauca, Colombia, this coffee is a product of the Café Femenino Colombia Program - a part of the greater Café Femenino® movement, which brings about social change and women’s empowerment for and through women coffee farmers and their communities. As roasters, we at Tiny Footprint Coffee have committed to supporting women coffee farmers in the past and present, sourcing our Mexican and Guatemalan coffees from women coffee producers when available. And we have to say, in terms of sourcing our beans with women’s empowerment in mind, the impacts of the Café Femenino® project and the women behind it are beyond inspiring. With each bag of beans you buy, you not only get tasty fuel for your day, but you help power the social and economic progress of the women coffee farmers who make this coffee possible.

While women have always played a vital role in coffee production, they were not always recognized or directly compensated for their work. But in 2003, a few women in northern Peru changed this by co-founding Café Femenino® alongside Organic Products Trading Company. A year later, the Café Femenino Colombia Program was established in Cauca. Since its inception, Café Femenino® has grown to span nine countries and impacted the lives of countless women, along with the other members of their communities. With each new cohort of the Café Femenino® movement, women coffee farmers gain not only social agency, but become sustained economic and social bolsters for themselves and their communities. And with every bag purchased, these women and the scope of their impact continues to grow.

The Café Femenino Colombia Program is no exception, and every bag of beans you buy directly affects and is a product of the women coffee farmers in Cauca and their community. At its founding, the women of the Colombia Program had to overcome plenty of barriers in terms of organizing, including an ingrained social stigma of leaving their homes, and the economic, social and personal impacts of prevalent drug trade. Unfortunately, narcotics trafficking has taken 300 lives from this co-operative since the 1990s, both from crossfire and young men joining in the search of viable income. But through years of perseverance and the support of Café Femenino® initiatives, these women have had a role in forming a Peace Agreement, and actively work to transition farms from coca to coffee, despite the threat of violence that has come with doing so. Today, 438 women farmers continue to overcome these roadblocks, and serve as an organized, thriving and integral sect of their community and economy. 

Through their courage and work with Café Femenino®, these women now serve in leadership roles, participate in community and business meetings, obtain the title to the lands on which they farm, and earn an extra premium for their high-quality coffee beans. And according to Café Femenino® representative Connie Kolosvary, with money going directly in their pockets, these women bear a newfound confidence and agency that builds on itself. Today, the social stigma of leaving their homes has been slowly eroded, and these women farmers are actively championed by both their husbands and local government. In many homes, women are even handling finances in their entirety, and rates of domestic abuse have dropped dramatically.

Since the Colombia Program’s creation, the women farmers involved have also impacted their communities by enacting a Healthy Kitchen’s Initiative, wherein nearly 100 kitchens in the homes have been reworked to meet their standards of safety and ventilation. Through the Café Femenino Colombia Program and the purchase of its beans, these women have become activists and community organizers, and today continue to grow and shape a new bedrock of their community through Café Femenino safety programs, gender equality, leadership training, and nutrition initiatives.

Thanks to these women and the Café Femenino® founders before them, when you choose our Colombian Café Femenino, you’re choosing more than a specialty coffee. You’re choosing to stand with women coffee farmers fighting for the credit they deserve and the voice they need to empower themselves and their communities. And as always, with your purchase at Tiny Footprint Coffee, you’re working towards a sustainable environment in which they may continue to grow.

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