On average it takes around 100 beans to make an espresso - that’s about 50 cherry picks to make one cup of coffee! But who picked the cherries? Who carried them to the drying station and sorted them? Did the right person benefit and receive an income from this? 

Although women undertake the majority of the work involved in growing, harvesting and drying the coffee, there is often inequality when it comes to income and roles (see reference below). Men often have near dominance over the final segment of the production side of the coffee value chain, which often means they reap most of the financial benefits.

Here are three organisations looking to address gender inequality within the coffee industry.

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance

The mission of the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) is to empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognise the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.

In collaboration with the UN and the International Trade Centre (ITC), the IWCA has set out to build networks of women in coffee throughout East Africa. Women at the core of the supply chain are starting to receive a return on their investment, through a series of integral steps developing new policies (e.g. women who had picked coffee cherries had to be allowed to sell to the washing station in their own names rather than it being in their husband's name), creating a profit sharing incentive program for farmers and pickers and focusing on quality coffee production. 

More info about the IWCA can be found here.

Farm Africa in Uganda

In Kanungu, Uganda, Farm Africa, a UK NGO recently found that although women contribute 58 per cent of the labour during the fieldwork and harvest stage of coffee production, and 72 per cent of the labour during post-harvest handling, they are unable to make a sufficient living through coffee farming. 

With funding from UK aid from the UK government, they launched a project in September 2019 to close the gender gap in the coffee industry in Kanungu, Uganda. The project works with coffee cooperatives, coffee farmers and local bodies to provide women with greater autonomy at the household, farm and cooperative level.

Farm Africa is providing women from 2,640 households in Kanungu with the support they need to access the coffee market, participate in coffee cooperatives, take on leadership roles, and make changes to decision-making dynamics within households, so they can have more say over the profits generated from their agriculture efforts.

More information from the project can be found here.

Cafe Femenino

The Café Femenino coffee program is one-of-a-kind ethical sourcing model committed to ending the cycle of poverty affecting women coffee farmers across the world. Café Femenino provides direct compensation to women farmers, along with the opportunity and resources to enact positive change in their communities and on their own terms. 

Café Femenino ensures women have legal rights to the land on which they farm, leadership positions within the cooperatives and final and business decision making power. Through participating in this program, women across the world have also noted many positive cultural changes, including recognition for the work they do in the home and on the farm, increase in family incomes and an increase in school attendance among girls.

More information can be found at Café Femenino.


At Chimney Fire we look to support women producers by working directly with women owned farms and telling their story, or working with organisations that support gender equality in coffee farming.

We’ve worked with many women producers in the past and have some some exciting new partnerships coming up within our core range offering. Last month we worked directly with coffee producer Ana Luiza Pellicer, sourcing some of her amazing Brazilian coffee for our August Discovery Coffee. Most recently, we were proud to support the Café Femenino coffee program for our September Discovery Coffee. A good example of how this program has successfully improved coffee-producing livelihoods is by having their names included on the titles to their land. In 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.  Head to Café Femenino for more information about this program.   

Additional reference:

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