Our Commitment To Gender Equity In Coffee
Coffee is a universe in itself. You may perceive this when you hold a warm cup and your mind starts to wonder about the thousand stories behind the drink you enjoy everyday. How did it come to be? How many hands have cared for these beans? How did they travel so far? How can drinking coffee be so simple every morning and its production so complex?
We at Bean & Bean believe that understanding the story of coffee is of surmont importance. Why? Because from producers to consumers and all of the workers in between--including farmers, truck drivers, importers, roasters, and your favorite barista--the coffee universe encompasses more than 600 million people worldwide. That’s double the people living in the whole American continent. Now, that’s a universe.
So how is life in the coffee cosmos? Not great for a lot of the main players, to be frank. Despite the fact that the majority (80%) of coffee is grown by smallholders, 44% of these smallholder [coffee farmers are living in poverty,] including 22% living in extreme poverty. Women operate 20-30% of smallholder farms and make up 70% of the laborers in coffee production; yet, they earn 40% lower revenue. In addition, climate change is taking a toll on coffee production, making it harder for farmers to work with unpredictable weather patterns, stronger coffee pests, and water scarcity brought by deforestation. And, despite the fact that the coffee industry continues to grow, the gains and opportunities are not distributed fairly among the players, leaving the most vulnerable ones even worse off.
That’s a lot to handle. It’s overwhelming to imagine all of these issues being contained in your morning cup. So what can we do as inhabitants of this complex universe?
Here at Bean & Bean, we believe that despite being a tiny speck in the vast coffee universe, we can take actions that will have an impact beyond what we could ever imagine. We are not alone--there are people in the coffee community (including you) that are concerned about the challenges behind your morning cup. We know that working toward change is never in vain if we unite together.
At Bean & Bean, we are well aware that there are multiple fronts where our coffee world is under siege. As a small company, we want to make the biggest impact with the limited resources that we have. That’s why we focused our efforts on an issue that is of the utmost importance to us: the gender disparity in coffee.
Coffee attracts people from all walks of life in its consumption and production. However, there are some barriers that women face in terms of coffee production. Most notably:
- Women produce 35% lower coffee wield than male farmers.
- Women earn 40% lower revenue from coffee sales than their male counterparts.
- 54% smallholder women producers have received any training or extension services.
We identified four main, interconnected reasons for these outcomes: lack of transparency, lack of agency, lack of fair trading deals and prices, and lack of access to training and resources.
The lack of transparency in how the value chain works leaves farmers not knowing how to correctly price their yields, which pushes them towards unfavorable trade deals and undermines their agency in the process. Because the incomes of women coffee producers are not stable and the communication along the chain is broken, they lack the resources and feedback to invest in better equipment, training, and processes that could improve the quality of their beans, encouraging better prices and entering a cycle of sustainable growth in place of replicating the poverty cycle.
So how can we break this cycle and uplift women farmers? We believe that a step forward is building relationships all along the coffee value chain, bringing together farmers, organizations, and intermediaries that take concrete actions to solve these specific issues.
We are committed to work and source our beans from these actors whose objective is to bridge the gender gap all throughout the coffee supply chain. Through ethical sourcing, we want to improve the livelihoods of many mothers, families, and coffee workers, bringing our beloved coffee universe one step closer to where we want it to be.
Rest assured that by drinking our coffee, you will be participating in the change we all want to see. And if you are still wondering about all of the people that come together to make your cup of coffee happen, here are our allies ― farmers and partners ― in this amazing movement.
Learn more about gender equity in coffee from our partners at Bean Voyage in the video above. Bean Voyage is one of many partners Bean & Bean works with to further gender equity in coffee.