We just passed Mothers day in North America, and this is a great moment to reflect on the role of women in the production of coffee worldwide. Using El Salvador as an example, statistics show that 99% of women involved in coffee production are mothers, and most of them are the economic pillars of their homes, since thousands of them are single moms.
In El Salvador there are approximately 20,000 coffee producers, 35% of them are women which means that around seven thousand of them own a farm or piece of land dedicated to coffee harvesting. Women contribution is larger than just owning a farm, they are involved throughout all the production cycle, from farming, picking, bean selection, cooking food for the pickers, etc.
Out of all the activities they are involved in, women have an extraordinary ability to select the best beans, separating those with any defect with meticulous attention in order to achieve the best cup of coffee possible. There are machines that can do this task but not even machines can match their skills. It is also very important to recognize their contribution in the coffee mills, working directly in all the required tasks including management.
Women have also acquired a relevant role in the exporting part, many of them have gained the technical skills needed to participate in the competitive international markets.
El Salvador has also excellent female baristas that are extremely proficient in the art of making amazing specialty drinks. If we stop for a moment whenever we drink a cup of artisanal (non commodity, mass produced coffees from the big chains) coffee, we are supporting a different kind of economy where many women play a critical role.
To all those mothers, working with coffee is their way to provide for their families, so just stop for a second, and think about how important it is to make informed decisions and the impact that we all as consumers can have if we choose direct traded coffees where we know the story behind them.
Today is a great day to reflect and celebrate women’s role in this beautiful coffee culture, and meditate about how our purchases can empower and fuel households, and create progress and development for those who need it most.