Last September, Sunghee and I were participating in the annual coffee festival in San Jose (Costa Rica) when we met Susana Monge. In a band of coffee producers from throughout the country, Cafe Famu stand stood out to us - not only because it was one of few women-led coffee businesses present at the festival, but also because their coffee was roasted at their own backyard. This peaked our interest as that is what we have been trying to do at Bean Voyage.
A week later, we were in the middle of Cafe Famu in Bustamante, Costa Rica. Cafe Famu is led by Susana’s mother, Ana Lorena. Ana Lorena graciously hosted us for the day and showed us the various sustainability methods she has implemented in her farm, and later showed us the methods she has learned to roast her own coffee. Her roasting machine? A reworked barbecue machine put together by a friend in the community. Considering how much we liked their coffee during the coffee festival, we were astounded that even with such limitations, Ana Lorena was able to prepare such a good, clean cup of coffee.
People like Ana Lorena are inspirations for us at Bean Voyage. Very few female coffee producers are able to participate in the different sections of the value chain - often restricted to just production. Ana Lorena, in addition to producing, was also processing, drying, roasting and packaging her own coffee. Upon further conversations, we realized that she had never attended university, but taught herself the basic coffee and business skills to grow this farm. However, she still needed to sharpen her skills to improve the quality of her coffee.
This is where Bean Voyage’s Care Trade Approach plays an important role. Through a three-pronged approach, we are ensuring a shortened value chain for female coffee producers. First, we train the women in our network on sustainable coffee production, home-based processing, roasting, cupping of coffee, and soft skills. The soft skills workshop is a unique value added to our program as we are equipping them with the skills required to effectively lead their farm workers, and negotiate fairer prices from buyers. Secondly, we connect them to consumers and buyers around the world. Till last year, we were doing this through a customer only platform, but this year we’re shifting the platform to create wholesale partnerships
for our farmers. We believe this will significantly increase our impact in the form of greater income for the farmers both in volume and quality of income earned. Finally, we’re introducing a new element to our model this year - partnerships
. In the last two years, we’ve realized the importance of not draining ourselves with our work. We recognized this is a marathon, not a race, hence we’re putting a greater focus on slow, organic growth. We cannot do everything ourselves, but we can work with like-minded organizations working in coffee communities around the world that could benefit from our training and market accessibility program. We’re offering licensing opportunities for local non profit organizations around the world. In addition to the training module, we hope to connect them to trainers within our networks.
This is an exciting year for us at Bean Voyage. In addition to getting a new identity, we’re gaining more clarity on what exactly we do. We thank you for your continued feedback - especially our mentors who have helped us in formulating a sustainable model for the venture. We hope you will consider collaborating in one of three ways - donate to support
training for farmers like Ana Lorena, buy coffee
for your business, or partner
to bring our program to your region.
We look forward to welcoming you into our community soon!
Co-Founder, Bean Voyage
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