The Future (of Coffee) is Female


Why International Women’s Day matters to the coffee industry

Women are essential to the coffee supply chain – but too often their contributions go unrecognized and unrewarded. Disenfranchisement and gender inequity are perpetuated through a myriad of economic, systemic, and cultural issues (from the insidious to the overt).

However, through hard work and persistence, we’re beginning to see a powerful (and empowering) change across the industry.  These inspiring initiatives are fueled by new (and overdue) research on women in coffee, which gives us critical data to measure real impact.

But there is still a long way to go.

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Data Snapshot: Building Resilient Coffee Farms


A New Industry Guide for Renovation & Rehabilitation

Coffee-growing regions around the world are feeling the impact of aging trees and diseases (such as coffee leaf rust, pictured above), on the quality and supply of coffee. Supporting responsible coffee farm renovation and rehabilitation is crucial to the future of coffee, and the longevity of our industry.

That’s why the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, in partnership with USAID’s Bureau for Food Security and  Dalberg Advisors, has released  a new Guidebook for Roasters, Traders, and Supply Chain Partners

The Guidebook is a comprehensive resource for companies, governments, investors, and service providers interested in undertaking Renovation & Rehabilitation (R&R) efforts; it:

  • Defines the need and makes the case for renovation and rehabilitation
  • Provides practical & useful tips on how to structure R&R programs 
  • Suggests ways that different stakeholders can engage in R&R
  • Presents case studies and links to experts and service providers

R&R investments are critical for ensuring the continued supply of coffee and meeting future demand. While governments and actors in coffee value chains have invested USD 1.2 billion in R&R so far, this has only met around 5% of the smallholder farmers in need

According to the Guidebook, if the industry did reach these farmers in need of R&R, benefits would include more coffee, higher incomes for farmers, and reduction in future deforestation.

Here’s a look at the numbers: Continue reading

Behind the NCA Coffee Gives Back Program

By William (Bill) Murray, President & CEO, National Coffee Association


“The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn’t be a farmer.” 

Will Rogers, U.S. Social Commentator, 1879-1935  

More than any other pursuit, successful farming depends on “external” factors.  Successful farming depends upon some things that can’t be controlled easily, and some things that can’t be controlled at all.

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Reframing the Narrative on Coffee Production ROI


A coffee farmer inspects his crop in Colombia. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) – via Wikimedia

Perspectives on the New SCA Report On Farm Profitability

In an article published on Daily Coffee News, Kraig Kraft from CRS Coffeelands addressed the Specialty Coffee Association’s recently released report that reviewed existing public information about farm profitability and costs.

The main — and surprising — conclusion from the analysis is that farm yield is not correlated to farm income. On the surface, this seems somewhat paradoxical.

Why wouldn’t higher production lead to more income?

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Grounds for Health Receives $200k Challenge Grant to Support Innovation in 2018

Classic GFH woman.jpg

Grounds for Health, an international NGO dedicated to the prevention of cervical cancer in developing countries, is embarking on a large fundraising campaign and it began with a bang. A very generous supporter offered to match every donation received before January 2018, up to $200,000.

Thanks to strong local health partners and coffee industry support, Grounds for Health has successfully screened over 80,000 women and treated more than 6,000 women in low resource settings since 1996.

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Breaking New Ground in Gender Research in Coffee

The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines


Women coffee farmers in Rwanda. Source: IWCA

By Ruth Ann Church and Josiane Cotrim Macieira, The International Women’s Coffee Alliance

In coffee, the women who perform much of the labor – up to 70%, according to the ITC’s Coffee Exporters’ Guide – to grow, harvest, process, and export coffee are all too often invisible.

Few organizations are focused on collecting or publishing data specifically on the women involved in the supply chain for commodities like coffee; and there has been little to no funding allocated to this task. Even in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producing country, the lack of data makes one believe that women do not exist.

Experts agree that women are the greatest untapped resource available to avert challenges to the global coffee industry. But the lack of data on women makes it impossible to understand their impact  in the value chain. This leads to under-performance in the coffee industry, much like how poor recognition of contributions in any industry can cause lagging productivity.

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Data Snapshot: Coffee Farmer Income


Photo courtesy of Fairtrade International

via Fairtrade America

Around 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by 17.7 million small-scale coffee farmers. And while the coffee industry aims to be a sustainability leader, the fact is that many farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet and support their families.

New research finds that the future of coffee depends on adequate income for farmers. A pilot study by Fairtrade International and True Price shows that despite sustainability pledges in the coffee sector, many coffee farmers struggle to make ends meet.

Key findings from the report include: 

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Changing the Game: Coffee Sustainability in Honduras

The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines


By Eduardo Rivera, Compañia Hondureña del Café (COHONDUCAFE)

During a recent weekly visit to coffee farms, as part of our support and monitoring program to coffee farms in Honduras, we came across small farm. Mr. Robinson Jimenez welcomed us into his home. He has been have been growing coffee for quite some time now, and until recently, he has been doing it without any technical training or information that you would find in a classroom.

A lot of coffee growers in Honduras grow coffee as how their father and grandfather did before them. However, this practice is changing. Climate change, economic factors, deforestation and other factors all play a role.

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Women’s Work: The Economic Imperative for Gender Equity in Coffee

“Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation of an economically prosperous coffee community.”

Robério Oliveira Silva, former Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO)


This International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of women in coffee, and to advocate for gender equality across the entire supply chain.

But how can the coffee industry go beyond the hashtag and create systematic opportunities for women to thrive?

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Seeding Coffee’s Future: A Conversation About Conservation and Verification

By Hanna Neuschwander, World Coffee Research

madagascar-wild -coffee.JPG

An unidentified Coffea species found in Madagascar, which is preserved in a coffee genebank. Ensuring these genebanks have adequate funding to continue operations should be a major priority of the coffee industry. Source: Sarada Krishnan

Sometimes facts are so obvious they become invisible.

In the case of coffee, one of those facts is this: Coffee comes from a plant. The entire $225 billion dollar coffee industry in the U.S. is built up from the roots of billions of living, breathing coffee plants that spend their days turning sunlight into fruit. Once you stop and think about it, it’s kind of profound. Nearly 1.7 million jobs — including, if you are reading this, probably yours — depend on those plants doing their thing, photosynthesizing, outsmarting diseases and pests, being rained on at the right time in the right amounts.

It’s also profound to think about just how fragile the entire arrangement is. The vast majority of coffee plants in the field today are really, really (really) genetically similar. Most varieties are not resistant to major diseases. Most are way too old (World Coffee Research guesses that about 50% of coffee trees are more than 50 years old). That leaves coffee especially vulnerable — to disease epidemics like the one that devastated Central American production after 2012, to extremes in weather like excessive rain or drought or frost.

When crops are facing challenges like these, it helps to go back to basics: Coffee is a plant. So — what is needed to help the plant thrive? And, thereby, to help the humans who depend on it?

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