Colombian Coffee and Women Coffee Farmers
Indigenous daughters of coffee farmers who attend school in Colombia
Photo Courtesy Fair Trade Certified
ASOANEI is an association of indigenous and small agro-ecological coffee producers from the northeastern mountains of Colombia. It was founded in 1995 to create an organic farming program that promotes the preservation of local indigenous cultures among its members. This is an organization of Native Agroecological Producers and Farmers from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Perijá. ANEI was founded in 1995 by Aurora Izquierdo, the first Arhuaca native woman from the community of Yewrwa, who decided to study in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, with the objective of organizing the economy of native and farmer communities. The production and commercialization of ANEI’s Coffee is within a context of harmony and respect for mother earth.
Republic of Colombia, officially a South American country, not Central American as many have been led to believe, is one of the most important coffee producing regions in the world. The name "Colombia" is derived from the last name of the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus. The name was later adopted by the Republic of Colombia of 1819, formed from the territories of modern-day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, and northwest Brazil.
Map Courtesy of La Minita Coffee
The geography of Colombia
“The geography of Colombia is characterized by its six main natural regions that present their own unique characteristics, from the Andes mountain range region shared with Ecuador and Venezuela; the Pacific Coastal region shared with Panama and Ecuador; the Caribbean coastal region shared with Venezuela and Panama; the Llanos (plains) shared with Venezuela; the Amazon Rainforest region shared with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador; to the insular area, comprising islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” Wikipedia
Colombia’s diversified economy is the third largest in South America, with macroeconomic stability and favorable long-term growth prospects. Columbia ranks third in the world for coffee production and coffee is one of the backbones of its economy contributing some 16 % of the annual Colombian agricultural output.
The variety of different coffee beans that are grown in Colombia are surprising considering that Colombia is the 31st largest country based on overall GDP (2020), yet the 13,679,000 sacks of coffee grown in 14 coffee growing regions primarily focus on two distinct types of beans, Arabica, and Robusta. For the true coffee enthusiast, it is the Arabica bean, which is grown at high altitudes and processed and picked by hand on small farms, that coffee lovers desire for their complex aromas and smooth, rich texture.
Photo Courtesy of NY Times
The consistency and Quality of Colombian Coffee
Given the consistency and quality of coffee beans emanating from Colombian coffee regions, the small batch, small farm nature of Colombian coffee, and the dedication of the farmers to maintaining the hand-picking traditional methods of harvesting, it is not surprising that such keenness to a trade is increasingly attributable to women. Small farm collectives and cooperatives in Colombian coffee growing regions are where the women are taking an increased interest in operations related to harvesting, milling, roasting, and selling coffee berries on international and regional markets. These additional responsibilities are of course, in addition to the traditional women's roles in a historically patriarchal society of preparing meals, managing household chores and responsibilities including raising children. As the women are adept at these important management skills, it is no surprise that the rise of Colombian women's coffee collectives, designed to increase gender equality on coffee plantations, have begun to flourish in Columbia with the Asprosi collective, a 1,000+ membership group as a shining example of the growing influence of women in the industry. While these “Cafeteras' ' still face many impediments to their full participation in key organizations such as the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Columbia (FNC) and other important cooperatives that provide increased access to major international markets.
Photo Courtesy of Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified Colombian Coffee
The international markets that women’s collectives do have access to have resulted in great acclaim for the Fair Trade, small farm, small batch beans that they do produce. These highly regarded beans are resulting in Non-Profit NGOs such as the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), based in Southern California, sponsoring programs in Columbia designed to allow for women involved in the coffee industry to get together and experience fellow member systems and methods and discuss the most successful strategies which result in improved quality and yield of the harvest. This growing influence in sections of the industry will continue to flourish as more women achieve positions of authority on the plantations. The FNC’s Coffee-Growing Women's Program now collects annual data related to the women collective and farm influence and the women themselves are obtaining positions in municipal and departmental committees in the FNC. One can only hope this gender equality strength, gained through growing influence due to the quality of their product, will continue to rise and that coffee consumers here in the United States, the largest coffee market worldwide with some $88 billion worth of coffee consumed, will take note of these women’s efforts, and turn their spending strength toward the products of their collectives. How does Colombia coffee taste? Truly extraordinary succulent, sweet creamy texture, with vanilla notes and a hint of dates in the finish.