Bolivia, Cafe Femenino
The Producers – Union ProAgro
The producers Union ProAgro are spread out around the Caranavi valley, in the state of La Paz, Bolivia. Formed in 1997, and today boasts over 300 members/families from 10 rural communities within the Caranavi region. Union Pro-Agro has a social mission as well to help its producers develop by providing assistance to grass roots projects in areas such as Health, Education, and roadway infrastructure. Currently the co-op has helped facilitate the registration of Women farmers, wives and widows, with Bolivia’s Department of Interior, in order to obtain the deeds to the land in their own names. Previously in Bolivia, women were very rarely considered landowners, and had no legal recognition or rights to their own farms and homes.
Empowering Women Through Coffee
Overcoming a variety of barriers, including geographic isolation, rugged terrain and a traditionally lower status in society, the women of the Café Femenino Bolivia Program have successfully improved their coffee-producing livelihoods, their future prospects, and the health of their families and communities. It all started in 2009, when the women separated their coffee production from the men’s, created a women’s association, and started their own Café Femenino Program in Bolivia. One of the first advancements the women in Bolivia achieved upon joining Café Femenino was having their names included on the titles to their land. This may sound trivial, but by doing so, the land remains with each woman if she becomes abandoned or is widowed, thereby providing protection from further poverty for herself and her children. Psychologically, this act instills a sense of value and ownership over each woman’s livelihood and business. This is a powerful means of creating self-esteem for women who are accustomed to being viewed as servants to their husbands. The women have reported a host of positive changes in their lives and their communities since joining Café Femenino in 2009. For them, the most valuable change is their successful creation of a cooperative space in which all women have educational opportunities and the chance to have their voices, ideas and opinions heard at the highest level of leadership. Beginning from a place of low self-esteem and self-worth, the women of the Café Femenino Bolivia Program now view themselves as business women in charge of their own destiny. And with the control of their own money, they have the ability to funnel their resources in the direction of their children and their community.
The Single-Origin Coffee
High altitude, fertile soils and constant rainfall throughout the year make Bolivia a perfect location for growing coffee. Like neighbouring Peru, coffee from Bolivia is medium bodied, creamy and lightly acidic. Cafe Femenino is cultivated at an elevation of 1100 – 1750 meters above sea level, with its harvest running from April to September. This coffee belongs to the Arabica species and Caturra and Criolla variety. It undergoes a washed process, where the mucilage is removed from the cherries, pulped and fermented in a steel tank, using minimal water. This reduced strain on the environment has a huge impact on sustainability and will produce a clean coffee. Bolivia, Cafe Femenino coffee is citrusy and sweet, with taste notes of red apple, brown sugar, chocolate and a soft orange acidity. This coffee works great in both milk-based coffees and home brew methods.