Adventures of a Coffee Trainer by Emma Haines

Adventures of a Coffee Trainer by Emma Haines

This week sees the celebration of International Coffee Day (October 1) where coffee lovers from around the globe celebrate this much loved drink.

This year’s theme, set by the ICO and announced on International Women’s Day (March 8) focuses on (self-identifying) women in coffee and has given space to celebrate and promote women working in the industry, from farm to cup.

As a woman working in this predominately male environment, it’s been heartening to watch the growing movement for #womenincoffee. With roasteries such as Girls Who Grind Coffee, run by Fi O’Brien and Casey Lalonde, whose purpose is to support women in the industry; to strong female leaders such as Esther Gibbs (Manumit Coffee, Cardiff) who spends her days providing support to those who are survivors of trafficking.

However, with statistics often difficult to ascertain, it can be hard to know the full picture. What we do know is that despite steps in the right direction, with some incredible women holding the floor for others to step up and join them, there is still much work to do.

On many coffee farms, women are used for the hard labour. They are responsible for much maintenance and harvesting, as well as ensuring the household runs, children are cared for and finances are sorted.

For many women at origin, they will find themselves often working double the hours their male counterparts do, whilst being paid less.

Couple this with the higher risk of being sexually assaulted at work (reference, or trafficked into slavery, women and young girls are still incredibly vulnerable.

In an attempt to battle this disparity, projects such as the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) are working to provide a space for women (particularly in producing countries) to have a voice in the industry. They have developed a network to connect women, so they can support and learn from each other as well as facilitate partnerships both locally and globally.

The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) is also working to identify gaps in gender inequality. Founded by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), they research and develop initiatives to develop gender equity. It’s proven that by providing a level playing field for women, it not only leads to safer places of work, but also makes better business sense all round.

2018 has also seen the first female World Barista Champion, Agnieszka Rojewska of Poland (see this week's news).

The meteoric rise of Agnieszka has been a phenomenal culmination of hard work and dedication.

The resulting excitement when her name was called was incredible and in that historic moment, Agnieszka changed the future of the industry forever.

So, as you sip your next coffee and ponder what to drink next, why not look to pay homage to a female producer, or a woman roaster? Let’s work together to make gender inequality a thing of the past and make equality the norm.

Who knows, maybe someday gender will be a non-issue, but until then, let’s keep fighting for our rights.




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