Reflecting on People + Pages / Coffee

This past week, several coffee professionals from around Houston gathered for the first People + Pages / Coffee event to reflect on the Specialty Coffee Association White Paper “Gender Equality and Coffee: Minimizing the Gender Gap in Agriculture”.

Here are some thoughts from the Boom Crü that attended:


Norma (GM):

The goal was to connect people in our coffee community and discuss challenges facing our industry, and I felt that the event achieved just that.   

When coffee lovers get together in one room it’s usually a throwdown or tasting, which does not typically provide a space to just slow down and talk. Baristas and coffee lovers on the day-to-day may have amazing, in-depth conversations with each other across the counter or espresso machine, but rarely do we just sit together sharing ideas, concerns, experiences and visions of what coffee community is and where it is going. This group is built on the principles of; Be Respectful, Be Reflective, Create a Safe Space and Make Friends, all of which were abundantly present and recognized.

The reading was an SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) research study on the topic of Gender Equality in Coffee: Minimizing the Gender Gap in Agriculture. The goal of the group was to discuss outline areas of the gender gap in coffee value chains; distribution of labor, income, ownership, and leadership/decision-making of women in coffee producing countries.

It started off a little slow, and at times we got off track, however it was amazing to see the exchange of ideas to how we can promote gender equality buy supporting coffee producers that positively contribute to gender empowerment. I felt that some of the best questions were actually from our youngest group member — lots of insight at 8 years old. We talked about the C-market coffee pricing crisis, direct trade coffee, social media and its impact, historic disadvantages and gender empowerment.  

I am looking forward to the next exchange of ideas!   

Chris (Marketing & COMM)

The paper focuses mainly on the gender gap on the producing side of coffee.  Working on the consuming end of the value chain, the article recommended several times that importers, roasters, and baristas should “purchase and market coffee that promotes (women inclusion, gender balance, female membership and land ownership, equal access to credit).”  On my first read, it almost felt like it wasn’t enough.  Reading about the distribution of labor, income disparity, and inaccessibility to training made me want to find a magical solution to all of it, but I realized that this kind of gender-conscious buying isn’t even commonplace yet – and Boomtown isn’t doing it as best as we can yet, either.  I think it’s a realistically adoptable first step to consider gender inequality when buying coffee, and I think the paper is effective in emphasizing that if every company in the coffee industry took this first step, it would make a huge impact.

Loved the discussions revolving around this concept, as well as the nuances of marketing these efforts.  I think the format was really important in allowing for healthy conversation.

Rosi (Bartender/BaristA)

To me it demonstrated a broader channel to connect with the coffee industry and its community from different perspectives. I am curious about everyone’s journey as much as the coffee seed to coffee cup journey. I feel it to be a responsible action to bring more that a cup of coffee to the table; and People & Pages seems to be just that.

Andrea (GM)

The first Houston Coffee Collective Book Club had a large turnout with a diverse group of people from shops and roasters all over Houston. 

The article followed the story of coffee farmer, Don Panchito, who produces world renowned coffee but despite his never ending labor of love, still lives a very modest lifestyle and depends on the performance of his coffee to put food on the table. We discussed how right now, coffee is trading at an all time low, despite the demand for the best of the best.

What I really appreciated about the discussion is how we considered not only what these farmers can do to impact equality, but how we as baristas, owners, and roasters play a large, if not larger role in equality from seed to cup. 

We discussed the culture of specialty coffee, how at times, we only consider what "cups the best" and how we can still strive for great coffee but also, build long lasting relationships with our producers so that we are there for the good and bad times. 

We also discussed equality in coffee within our workplaces and got a gauge on where we feel our industry is, there were mixed emotions. 

As leaders and future leaders in specialty coffee, we agreed that we will continue to have these discussions and develop ways to impact the industry for the better. It starts with practicing what we preach in our own shops so that we can create a better work environment for those who come after us.