UPDATED MARCH 2022
Celebrating Our Women Coffee Producers
March 8th is International Women's Day: a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In honor of International Women’s Day, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate our women coffee producers and to share some of their achievements cultivating coffee and supporting their families in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Brazil.
Member of the Young Entrepreneur Group, formerly the Next Generation Young Farmers of San Miguel (La Segunda Generación de Café Entre Volcanes) group in Guatemala
Coffee: Festa Holiday Blend and Next Generation Roast, sold exclusively at New Seasons Market stores in Portland
Karen is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Group, and former coffee producer with the Next Generation Young Farmers of San Miguel Group (La Segunda Generación de Café Entre Volcanes). She is the daughter of Lesbia and Armando, who are both members of the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative. As a member of the Young Farmers, Karen was the youngest member of the group at 18 years of age, and one of only three women in the youth group.
Karen was awarded a scholarship through the BFB Foundation to continue her studies to become a nurse. Recently featured by the foundation as a scholarship recipient, Karen shared that she wants to obtain a university degree to improve as a person and as a family member. She sees the degree as a means to open doors and find employment. On reaching her goal of graduating, Karen says she has made a commitment with herself to be as present as possible and give her maximum in her performance. She says "it is not easy, but willing is power." She says that in the future, she would like to continue studying to become a doctor, but right now her parents are only able to cover the costs for her to be trained as a nurse.
Coffee remains a big part of Karen's life. Everything she has learned about coffee has been from her family. At least three members of her family - her aunt, Virgilia, and both of her parents are active members of the San Miguel Escobar co-op where many of the Guatemalan microlot coffees Nossa Familia sources are from.
Despite the challenges she has faced to be taken seriously as a young female coffee grower, Karen continues to contribute to her family's main livelihood. As a member of the Young Entrepreneur Group, Karen recently secured an interest free $1,500 microloan through the De la Gente Young Entrepreneur Fund to purchase land to help grow her family's business cultivating coffee. She plans to pay back the loan within the next three years.
Owner, Fazenda Santa Alina, Brazil
Coffee: Family Line coffees
Fazenda Santa Alina, founded in 1907, is one of the coffee farms that has been passed down through generations of Nossa Familia founder Augusto’s family in Brazil, located in the São Sebastião de Grama, Minas Gerais region in Southeast Brazil. Augusto’s cousin, Lucia Maria da Silva Dias, or “Tuca” as she’s lovingly known by friends and family, left the farm at a young age to live in São Paulo. She worked there as an architect, and did not intend to return to the farm. Upon the death of her grandfather however, her family planned to rent out the Santa Alina coffee farm. Tuca had another idea, and returned to the farm in 2010. She manages the farm with her business partner, Rodrigo Fernandes, where their goal has been both to increase the production of high-quality coffees and to improve the quality of life of the farmworkers and locals. Tuca has a passion for people, and has changed the management style of the farm from a top-down to bottom-up structure, and has invested in employee training in a variety of areas. Workers now have more say on the farm, and a direct channel to Tuca and Rodrigo. One of the features on the farm that exemplifies Tuca’s approach are simple signs that adorn many of the colorful farmhouses that serve as a reminder: “Gentileza gera gentileza” — kindness leads to kindness.
Hilda Mayela Reyes García
Farm Administrator at Finca San Jose de las Nubes in Nicaragua
Coffee: Nicaragua - Finca San Jose de las Nubes Microlot & contributor to our Signature Full Cycle Blend
Hilda is the Farm Administrator at Finca San Jose de las Nubes, located near Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where she has worked for nearly 5 years. This level of authority and responsibility on a coffee farm is rare for a young woman in Nicaragua. During the week Hilda lives and works on the farm, where she oversees the maintenance of the coffee crops and fruits and vegetable gardens, and the harvest. Every weekend, she travels to see her parents and to attend school on Saturdays. She is studying Engineering in Agricultural Sciences. Hilda says, “My studies will help me greatly by expanding my knowledge of agriculture, especially in the coffee and cattle industries. My hope is to continue to work and get ahead in my studies, and to always produce excellent quality coffee. I appreciate my team here on the farm and the improvements we have made to the farm kitchen and school, in order to better provide for the children and families here.” While most of the land at Finca San Jose is devoted to the coffee crops, one of Hilda’s passions on the farm has also been expanding the fruits and vegetable garden there. The goal for this garden is to have better nourishment for the children who live on the farm, instead of the processed and packaged foods that they might normally get. They have also been able to provide better nutrition and nourishment to those children who come to the farm’s one-room schoolhouse to attend class. Hilda also uses her knowledge of plants to beautify the farm by planting other ornamental flowers and shrubs around the grounds.
Legal Advisor and Board President of the Asociación Unión de Pequeños Caficultores (UPC) in Huehuetenango, Guatemala
Coffee: Augusta’s & Camila’s Organic
Blandy first learned to cultivate coffee in 2005. Now, more than 17 years later, she serves as the board president and legal representative for Asociación Unión de Pequeños Caficultores, the Union of Small Scale Producers (UPC), an association of over 160 coffee producers, over half of whom are women, located in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The cooperative is a major source of Organic Certified Coffee for Nossa Familia.
Blandy is married to Rudy Leonel Martinez and together they have 3 daughters (23, 21 & 8 years old). She is originally from Santo Domingo Huica, La Libertad, Huehuetenango, where she completed primary school. She learned everything she knows about coffee from her parents and later from Ana cafe. She joined the UPC Cooperative in 2016 and has been a very active member, the other members saw this so they voted her as Vice President and later in 2019 as President of the board. As UPC's legal advisor Blandy advocates for dignified income for producers, inclusion of women in the coffee industry, and organic farming practices. She is always looking forward to new ways to improve the coffee to get better prices for all the associates and increase the production.
San Miguel Escobar Cooperative Member in Guatemala
Coffee: Guatemala - San Miguel Escobar Cooperative Microlot & contributor to our Signature Full Cycle Blend
Lesbia joined the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative (Café Artesanal San Miguel Entre Volcanes de Antigua), an association of 24 coffee producers located in a small community near Antigua, Guatemala, in 2010. At a young age, Lesbia worked with her mother at large coffee farms. After joining the co-op, Lesbia became a landowner with a loan from De la Gente, a local nonprofit coffee importer and Nossa partner. In 2014 together with her husband, Armando, further expanded their property and they now own 5 cuerdas of land. Parents to nine, Lesbia and Armando work hard to pay for their kids' education. Their current efforts are focused on the eldest daughter, Karen, who is currently studying to become a nurse with future plans to enter the medical academy to become a doctor. Lesbia and Armando also make sure to pass on their knowledge about coffee to the next generation.