Coffee Connects Women’s Issues Continents Apart
A unique project is linking women in Guelph with indigenous women in the remote northern Andes. Café Femenino is an initiative of some of the poorest women in Peru. It involves them growing their own coffee, keeping it separate from other coffee and keeping the revenue generated through its sale in their own hands.
Guelph’s Planet Bean Coffee imports and roasts Café Femenino which is sold throughout southern Ontario by cafés and retailers. The coffee is also supplied free to local women’s shelters through Women In Crisis (W.I.C.). “This is remarkable since these Peruvian women would normally be passive and marginalized by the men around them” commented Bill Barrett of Planet Bean Coffee. “They live in isolated homes, cook over open fires, carry their water, look after children, work their farms and are under the control of their husbands.
Women in these rural areas are said to be at a 70% risk of sexual assault. They have few resources, no support network limited education and no control over the household income.” “Cafe Femenino is their proactive plan to change their lives and the lives of their children. At Planet Bean we have decided to fully support their efforts and get people buying their coffee” said Barrett.
The coffee is organic and certified fair trade by Transfair Canada plus the women are paid higher than the official fair trade price. Part of that goes into a separate fund which they administer for community projects.
“This summer our roaster and I travelled to Peru to find out more about this story, meet and interview the women involved, gather video and photos of their lives, and bring that back here to tell people about their project. We have heard and seen some amazing things” said Barrett. There are now more than 750 women involved in 50 communities.
Part of the Café Feminino mandate is to connect women in communities around the world which is why Planet Bean is providing the coffee to W.I.C. “Through this innovative project we will be able to help women who have experienced abuse both at a local and global level”, said Sly Castaldi, Executive Director for W.I.C, “It’s another example of how we can work together to make a difference in the world.”
The coffee also tastes great. “These women have been focused on growing and processing a quality product. They know that their long term success will be based on flavour and their coffee produces an exceptionally tasty roast”, enthused Barrett. One of the coffee shops in the area selling Café Feminino is the Morning Glory Café and Bakery.