Does it seem to you like coffee is just everywhere in Portland these days? It sure does to us! Of course, we live and breathe the delicious stuff, so it’s natural for us to feel that way. But the truth is, it’s not just Portland. The whole world is flush with un-roasted coffee. (That’s where we come in.) It happens that a lot of this un-roasted coffee is high quality and in the right roasters hands, sure to be delicious. So sourcing coffee isn’t a matter of asking if we can we find good coffee. It’s a matter of asking, can we do more than just find good coffee?
That’s where trading partners like Sustainable Harvest come in. Through there good work, we’re able to offer an excellent coffee from a co-op of 32 women who call themselves Sumac Warmi.
Below, you can read in her own words what it means for one member in particular to be a part of this co-op.
Why did you choose to be a part of this collective? How did you join this group?
[I choose to be a part of this collective] because the cooperative promote work that is collective and organized, and [the cooperative] trains us. [Being a part of the cooperative] allows us to improve the economic well-being of our families by finding markets for our coffee.
When you join the cooperative, you learn that our coffee [Sumac Warmi] is being promoted as a high-quality coffee brand within the cooperative, produced exclusively by women members. For this reason, I [chose to] join the group.
What is your dream, both professional and personal?
[My dreams are to] grow as a woman leader, helping other women strengthen their technical skills and administrative capacities for the sake of their families, [and to] improve the infrastructure of my home and wet mill to increase the productivity of my farm.
What are some of the challenges you have? What is the difficult part of your work?
[It is a challenge to] manage my farm and at the same time care for my family. [It is also a challenge to] maintain the quality of my coffee when faced with unfavorable weather conditions.
[The most difficult part of my work is] overcoming the shortage of economic resources needed to develop and invest in my farm.
What do you like most about what you do? What is the most rewarding moment with your work?
I like all the activities I do on my farm, from harvesting the cherries, to milling, drying, and selling my coffee.
[The most rewarding moment of my work is] the harvest and the sale of my production, and obtaining the best cup quality based on all of my effort and dedication.
“…[W]omen are typically the backbone of coffee production in their communities, as they are often the ones caring for the coffee from harvest to parchment. And while women are generally managing most of the labor of producing coffee, they are not always the legal owners of the land they work on, nor are they direct recipients of the income their families bring in from coffee.What makes women’s cooperatives, or women’s groups within cooperatives, so significant is that they put the power, and the money, into the hands of women. When women are in control of their own coffee, it can provide a path towards autonomy in their decision making, oftentimes leading to the income from coffee being used in a way that brings greater benefit to their families and their communities.”