The founder of Vava Coffees Kenya, her vision for coffee comes from an inborn Kenyan perspective on the industry which drives her to challenge the neo-colonialist systems still in place which have created unbalanced power dynamics between producer and buyer. The supply chain in Kenya is complex. She focuses her work on promoting the efforts of the micro entrepreneur coffee producer who works day and night with limited access to resources, battling major obstacles to produce some of the best coffees in the world, often without an understanding of the value of their crop.
Vava Coffees is a certified B-Corp using business, and specifically coffee, as a force for good. Empowerment is a hugely important concept to Vava and it is present in every aspect of the coffee transaction. She works to ensure the producer has agency in their business and the skills and knowledge to understand the immense value of their efforts. She has helped to collect data on the costs involved in production to create a more viable business model for the future and also established the initiative Gente del Futuro (GDF) to empower women and youth in coffee. In 2020, she authored the amazing book ‘Coffee. Milk. Blood.' Determined to change the usual narrative of the coffee producer (typically told by white coffee buyers), Vava worked with the photographer Portia Mae to capture the most incredible shots of some of the women she works with in coffee to showcase what it looks like when they are empowered. We think the following quote from Vava herself sums up how we now consider tough decisions when they come our way:
“I have to say there is a paradox in the sense that if you empower or regenerate or you enter into a partnership that fundamentally affects the power balance, then it is like a parent and a child…if you want to get away from the colonial notion of empowerment, then that means you have to take really high risks, because you are enabling things to happen which may not seem to be exactly what you would have wanted. In other words, you can’t empower and secure regenerative actions and at the same time exercise control.” (Vava Angwenyi, Coffee Milk Blood, 2020)
Vava is the woman behind our Kenyan coffee sourcing. We have worked with her since 2019 when we flew out to learn more about her business. She has helped us to not only access coffees from some of the lesser known producing regions (Meru/Trans-Nzoia County), she has also introduced us to small estate owners and coops with whom we have a chance to build a long term partnership. We proudly offer the same coffee each year from producers Mutai Kinyua (owner of Deman Estate in Meru), Frances Magero (owner of the Kimoso Estate in Trans-Nzoia County) and coop members of the Rianjagi Farmers Coop Society (Embu). You can click here to read more about this partnership and what it is contributing to our goal of improving the viability of business models across our supply chain.
Coffee Milk Blood
We feel so unbelievably honoured to be stocking copies of this amazing book written by our dear friend and partner Vava Angwenyi and published by Leeds based printers Pressision.
This beautiful photographical piece of work is thought provoking and powerful. It is a book for anybody interested in the world and its global community. It celebrates women, empowerment, resilience and beauty.