Did you know that women play a major role in the production of coffee around the world? In general, women are responsible for up to 70% of the work on coffee farms yet they only earn 10% of the total household income and only own 1% of the land.
Maybe that's also one of the reasons why typically female farmers are referred to as “farmer's wives" and why coffee is still largely seen as a "men's crop". Luckily this viewpoint is changing thanks to powerful women all around the world who are speaking up and paving the way so that working women get equal rights and pay.
In Vietnam alone, women make up about 50% of the in-country traders, which is significantly more than in other countries. Reason for a fist-pump, yeay!
In the coffee industry specifically, we see more and more women-only cooperatives pop up. You might wonder what the "girl power" situation is at Belvico? Let's have a look!
Girl power at Belvico
We have two female pacemakers at Belvico: our co-founders Claudia and Julie. Without their determination, vision and resourcefulness we would not be where we are today.
Just like we wouldn't be as successful without all our female farmers! It's because of their meticulous work that we can keep up with our exceptionally high standards for quality. They are the "girl power" behind each Belvico coffee bean.
Looking at the coffee industry in general, female farmers are no exception, on the contrary, they often even take on critical roles as producers, traders, roasters, cuppers, baristas and coffee shop owners.
Let's take a closer look at why women are the most valued workers in the coffee industry.
In Central Highland Vietnam, where our Belvico coffee plantations are located, almost all women work on coffee farms. Not only do they nurture the coffee plants, they also control the quality of the beans during growth and harvest.
Women are better at meticulous work like selecting and examining coffee cherries - activities that are essential for good quality.
Processing and roasting
Women play a significant role in the processing and roasting of coffee as well. They are often the ones who operate the small-scale traditional mills, where the beans are cleaned, dried, roasted and ground. This is a very important process, as it determines the flavor profile.
Processing coffee is often highly fragmented, involving multiple actors from post-harvest handling, to drying, sorting, grading and packaging. Women often work in drying and sorting beans because this is very detailed work.
With the increased popularity of micro-roasters and specialty/third-wave cafes that roast in-house, the number of female-led coffee roasters is on the rise all over the world.
In Vietnam, women are well represented when it comes to trading. They are usually the point of contact to negotiate with farmers and buyers as they are widely considered to be strong negotiators.
In production, they participate in different levels throughout the entire production process. Drying beans, selling coffee, and negotiating loans and repayments are tasks where women’s involvement seems the highest.
Women are increasingly represented all over the world at this point in the value chain, both as owners and co-owners of coffee shops and as expert baristas.
Paired with a rise in "conscious consuming", a trend that shows customers prefer to support businesses that have a positive social and environmental impact, the girl power in the coffee industry is getting stronger every day.
Girl power advice
At Belvico, we value all contributions of women in this industry. They truly play an essential role when it comes to improving coffee quality!
Because there's nothing more powerful than women supporting women, we want to inspire you and leave you with some badass girl power advice from successful women in the coffee industry:
- Don't overthink. You don't have to know everything. There will always be people who know more than you. And yet it's okay to be really excited about that one, little thing you do know. It's your enthusiasm that people like, not the fact that you have all the knowledge.
- Learn from and work with people and businesses who have values that align with yours.
- Get clear and determine what attracts you in the industry. Be patient, educating yourself takes time. Whatever skill you are learning, it will also teach you about yourself. Be open to it.
- Surround yourself with people who are critical but also caring.
- Take everything with a grain of salt. Whether that's a compliment or an insult.