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Women in Coffee

Today is International Women’s Day. A global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

In honour of today, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate the incredible women we have the pleasure of working alongside so we asked a selection of them a few questions and here’s what they had to say.

Due to speaking with women across the globe, from both ends of the supply chain, we haven’t yet had all their responses. However, we know they will be insightful and inspirational so keep your eyes on this blog as we update it.

Maria: Producer at Finca Margarita

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do…
I am retired now, but I mainly worked as a teacher helping children to grow and gain knowledge. I have dedicated myself to the farm, to the countryside, to living a stress-free life, communicating with nature and with the people around me.

Now I try to enjoy life, I visit my grandchildren who live a few kilometers away from me. I try to enjoy every moment of life; I paint, embroider and do housework. I also have my mother who is 92 years old so I must keep an eye on her.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is excellent to think of a human being who strives or sacrifices, or works for the well-being of humanity as a mother, as a wife, as a child, as someone worth celebrating. It is important to tell women “we value you and we are here for you”. It is a beautiful day.

Can you tell us about a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you? 
God gives each one the skills and knowledge, and the role that corresponds to each one in this life. So having the power to do what I want to do is very important to me. For example, at school (where I worked), taking my own role that corresponded to me as a teacher. Also, as a wife, mother, daughter. In the same way, with the farm, doing the best I can, enjoying what I do so that others can also enjoy it as well.

Build as many friendships as possible in this world.

How do you feel the industry could improve its attitude towards gender discrimination?
I believe that not only the coffee industry, but all industries could improve, if women take on the role that corresponds to them. There should be greater understanding (for women), but above all to take control of our activities, and understand that every day we need to improve our quality of life, our relationships, the harvest. Making sure we aren’t necessarily the same, but equal.

Steph: Bramhope Deli

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do…
I’m 25 years old, I studied Economics and Politics at the university of Manchester and I now own ‘The Bramhope Deli’ alongside my partner. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this in my life and I would like to think I am succeeding so far. If you had asked me 5 years ago, just after graduating, what I would be doing in 2022 I would have never said this would be my life, which I think is very interesting.

Sometimes it’s hard to say you’re succeeding at something, especially as a woman. I am very much a successful businesswoman at 25?! (Well so far anyway) but it feels sort of arrogant to say that. I believe part of the reluctance to say that as a woman is because society has taught women not to be confident, whereas men have always been praised for confidence. Anyway, before I go on… The Bramhope Deli is an independent coffee shop which serves North Star Coffee, amazing brunch and loads of gorgeous, sweet stuff. I have owned it for just over a year now with my partner and it has been the most difficult yet rewarding challenge of my life.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is an amazing day to feel proud and shout about being a woman. It is a time to reflect and look at all we have achieved as a gender, under difficult circumstances.

I think especially being a black woman, I very much strive for a focus on intersectional feminism and IWD is a celebration of ALL women which is so important to me.

Can you tell us about a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?
I would say an empowering moment was Kamala Harris being elected as Vice President in the United States. As a black woman and as a woman, that was a moment in my life that I felt like I would look back on and say to my grandchildren ‘I was alive when they elected the first ever female Vice President and I saw it all unfold on TV’. After four years of trump in office, it had felt like such a backward step for women’s empowerment, so how could that moment not be empowering?!

What empowers you within our Industry?
What empowers me within our industry is there are so many amazing business women smashing it that I get to meet and witness in action on a regular basis. My perception of the industry, although I don’t have any stats is that it isn’t dominated by men. It seems to me that there could be as many females as there are males running coffee shops and coffee Roasteries. Obviously on the ground in hospitality you do get a lot of women as well which I love. Most of my team is made up of women. I feel like as a young woman I have very much been welcomed into this industry by a whole load of people, including North Star and I never expected to be taken so seriously, but I am.

How do you feel the industry could improve its attitude towards gender discrimination?
I suppose in every industry there is work to be done and there are discrepancies between males and females in pretty much every walk of life. That is how our society has been set up for many years.

I think a major turning point in a lot of industries would be if we could close the pay gap. I am not going to comment on stats within our industry as I don’t feel like I have the knowledge to do so but I will assume like most industries there is gender discrimination regarding pay, especially when it comes to larger companies. I think there are ways to go to achieve gender equality and we are all still a long way off so everyone in the industry needs to remember to focus on battling gender discrimination and keeping the discussion alive.

A big thing I have noticed from my own experiences is that nobody expects me to be the boss/owner. I have found it has often shocked people when they discover that I am. I do believe to an extent that shock stems from gender discrimination.

I believe a way to start to tackle that is to shed light on the amazing women in the Industry, just as north star is doing through these profiles. It should remind people that women can be business owners too!

Luiza: Brew Lancaster

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do…
I’m Luiza, I own Brew coffee shop in Lancaster, Lancashire. I opened Brew in 2018 after travelling for several years and falling in love with the community coffee shops bring.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Firstly, it means starting the day with a wonderful cold-water dip (tits to the wind) with some of the ladies I swim with. And secondly for me, it’s amazing to showcase all the other female business owners in what seems like a dominant male world.

Can you tell us about a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?
Probably during the pandemic, when all the female lead countries had significantly lower infection rates.

What empowers you within our Industry?
For me, being able to bring the community together through my little shop. And being able to employ such a diverse team, as half of our employees are from the LQBTQ community.

How do you feel the industry could improve its attitude towards gender discrimination?
I haven’t personally experienced much, but maybe that’s because it’s institutionalised.

Also breaking the stigma that chefs are males and servers are females.


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