IWCA in Atlanta: Lessons Learned From Sustainability-Focused Initiatives

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Calling all NCA 2019 Convention attendees!

You’re invited to a lively interactive forum, titled Connect. Empower. Advance. Insights & Lessons Learned From Sustainability-Focused Initiatives.

Join the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and moderator Nathalie Gabbay, Representative of RGC Coffee, for the IWCA Annual Luncheon fundraiser at the NCA 2019 Convention in Atlanta, GA.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to get high-level insights into leading sustainability initiatives and connect with colleagues from across the coffee industry.

Panelists and discussion topics include:

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Meet the NCA Next Generation: Amber Gray, Starbucks

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The following Q&A is from the NCA Next Generation Group, a National Coffee Association initiative to engage and support young professionals and emerging leaders across the coffee industry. 

Join the NCA Next Generation Council for young professionals in the coffee industry at the NCA 2019 Convention in Atlanta on Friday, March 8.


Amber Gray
Mgr Sr Coffee Operations, Starbucks
NCA Next Gen Council Member

How and when did you get involved with the coffee industry?

I got involved in coffee in 2013 when I joined Atlas Coffee Importers in north Seattle.

Having a culinary degree, I was trying to find an opportunity that would allow me to stay connected to the food and beverage industry, but still utilized my analytical background.

I worked in their Logistics department, managing and coordinating orders from green coffee warehouses to various customers across the US.

What interested you in joining the NCA Next Generation group, and then becoming part of the council?

I found out about the Next Gen council opportunity while on an origin trip in Costa Rica. Experiencing the first 10 feet of coffee inspired me to find a way to contribute more to the larger conversation.

I hope to help inspire the next generation, especially women, to get involved in coffee and supply chain.

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From Invisibility Towards Inclusivity: Building Diversity In the Coffee Industry

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Daiane Vital embracing her mother Vanilda de Souza Vital, south of Minal Geraris Brazil. Photo: Danielle Sereio

“The industry must do a better job at telling coffee’s history, beyond those who carried the bean throughout different parts of the world…”
– Phyllis Johnson, BD Imports, NCA Board Member


In the most recent issue, Roast Magazine published an insightful and important article by Phyllis Johnson, NCA board member and BD Imports president & co-founder.

Strong Black Coffee, Why Aren’t African Americans More Prominent in The Coffee Industry?” features perspectives from 14 black coffee professionals.

The following is a summary of the original piece, with new reflections and an update from Johnson’s recent trip to Brazil during International Coffee Week.

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ICO International Coffee Day Highlights Women in Coffee

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Demonstrate Your Commitment to Supporting #WomenInCoffee with the IWCA

By Melissa Pugash & Margaret Swallow, Co-Founders, International Women’s Coffee Alliance


Monday, October 1, 2018 is the International Coffee Organization’s 4th Annual International Coffee Day.

Hosted by the ICO,  “International Coffee Day is a global celebration of coffee’s long journey from the farm to your local shop — an opportunity to honor the women and men who grow and harvest the coffee we love.”

The seventy-seven member states of the ICO selected “Women in Coffee” as the theme for this year’s International Coffee Day.

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International Women’s Coffee Alliance Celebrates 15-Year Anniversary: Looking Back and Moving Forward

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By IWCA Co-Founders Melissa Pugash and Margaret SwallowIWCA logo

This is a year in which businesses and nonprofits are reviewing and reimagining the roles that women play within their organizations. As co-founders, we’re pleased that the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) was a pioneer in bringing the role of women in our industry into the national and global spotlight.

In that spirit, the ICO announced that “Women in Coffee” is the theme for International Coffee Day 2018 on October 1.

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How a Nonprofit Is Fighting “One of the Great Inequities in Health Care” For Women Coffee Producers

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Photo: Grounds for Health via Evan Gilman, @evan.gilman

Supporting Coffee Communities at Origin: Q&A with Grounds For Health, the 2018 NCA Origin Charity of The Year Award Winner

The National Coffee Association is proud to recognize Grounds For Health as the first-ever recipient of the NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award, for their work providing cervical cancer screenings and treatment for women working in the coffeelands. The 2018 award is generously sponsored by Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee, and was presented by Michael Gaviña, NCA Chair, on March 16 at the NCA 2018 Annual Convention in New Orleans.

NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award Winner

The NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award is part of the NCA Coffee Gives Back Showcase & Award Program, to recognize the outstanding impact of nonprofits dedicated to supporting coffee communities at origin. (Learn more about NCA Coffee Gives Back Showcase & Award eligibility and application requirements.)

“Our work in the coffee regions of Latin American and East Africa has been supported in great measure by the coffee industry,” says Ellen Starr, Executive Director, Grounds for Health, in the NCA news release. “Our relationship demonstrates just how much social change can be achieved when an industry fundamentally cares about its people at every step of the supply chain.”

Here, Star discusses what it’s like treating one of the greatest health care inequities facing developing nations, her experience working with the coffee community, and how the organization is scaling up. 

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The Future (of Coffee) is Female

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Why International Women’s Day matters to the coffee industry

Women are essential to the coffee supply chain – but too often their contributions go unrecognized and unrewarded. Disenfranchisement and gender inequity are perpetuated through a myriad of economic, systemic, and cultural issues (from the insidious to the overt).

However, through hard work and persistence, we’re beginning to see a powerful (and empowering) change across the industry.  These inspiring initiatives are fueled by new (and overdue) research on women in coffee, which gives us critical data to measure real impact.

But there is still a long way to go.

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Breaking New Ground in Gender Research in Coffee

The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines

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Women coffee farmers in Rwanda. Source: IWCA

By Ruth Ann Church and Josiane Cotrim Macieira, The International Women’s Coffee Alliance

In coffee, the women who perform much of the labor – up to 70%, according to the ITC’s Coffee Exporters’ Guide – to grow, harvest, process, and export coffee are all too often invisible.

Few organizations are focused on collecting or publishing data specifically on the women involved in the supply chain for commodities like coffee; and there has been little to no funding allocated to this task. Even in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producing country, the lack of data makes one believe that women do not exist.

Experts agree that women are the greatest untapped resource available to avert challenges to the global coffee industry. But the lack of data on women makes it impossible to understand their impact  in the value chain. This leads to under-performance in the coffee industry, much like how poor recognition of contributions in any industry can cause lagging productivity.

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Gender Equity: Strengthening the Links of the Coffee Supply Chain

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Gender equity is good for the coffee business.

The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) believes that vibrant farming communities are the key to producing better coffee, and more of it. Therefore, they’re working to address this issue through large-scale collaboration, standardized best practices, and stronger data – starting with the report, “The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in Coffee Value Chains.”

During a recent NCA webinar, “Gender Equity: Strengthening the Links of the Coffee Supply Chain,” industry experts Kimberly Easson, Samantha Veide, and Chad Trewick discussed key findings, required resources, and where the industry can go from here.

Four highlights emerged from the research:

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Women’s Work: The Economic Imperative for Gender Equity in Coffee

“Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation of an economically prosperous coffee community.”

Robério Oliveira Silva, former Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO)

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This International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of women in coffee, and to advocate for gender equality across the entire supply chain.

But how can the coffee industry go beyond the hashtag and create systemic opportunities for women to thrive?

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