Oolong tea, ripe papaya, rose
When it comes to producing exceptional coffee, it truly takes a village. Women are a tremendously influential part of the global coffee community, making up 70% of the labor in field work and harvesting—detail-oriented roles which ultimately translate to excellence in the cup. However, women face steep challenges when it comes to equitable access to career growth, land, education, and credit, representing just 20-30% of farm ownership.
The Village is a celebration of women in coffee, composed of seasonally-rotating selections from valued relationships with female producers and cooperatives, aimed at highlighting and addressing this gender gap. According to strong research, investing in women increases the sustainability of coffee everywhere—women are more likely to reinvest their income back into their families, their coffee businesses, and their communities. And when access to decision-making and the
The complex tropical cup profile of the Congo Mapendo is no coincidence. High altitudes, careful processing, an exceptional coffee variety, and a gender-equitable community at the center all contribute to quality flavors. This coffee is full of cleanly expressed, juicy tropical fruits and florals from start to finish: pineapple, kiwi, mango, coffee blossom. The high level of caramel sweetness is potentially directly related to its name—Mapendo means “love” in Swahili.
OriginKalehe, South Kivu, DR Congo
Meet the Women of Mapendo
This Congolese coffee comes to us from a community group of women coffee growers in South Kivu, Congo. Since incorporating gender equity into our green sourcing work, we have been openly communicating that value with importers. We have been grateful to work with Mighty Peace Coffee, an importing company that has gender equity woven into its DNA. They’re a company led by 2 women on different continents — their founder and CEO, Liza Pitsirilos, is based here in the United States, and their Chief Quality Officer and Agronomy Engineer, Linda Mugaruka, is based in the DRC.
It Takes a Village
Though their work is extraordinary, it’s not a new concept specific to Mighty Peace: the UN has long included gender equity and women’s empowerment at the center of their global sustainable development goals. We know now that gender equity can be an avenue toward gender equality — it’s a tool to create a balanced society. Gender empowerment, and including whole households and communities in that work, leads to healthier economies and long-lasting change for the better. The Mapendo women and their community have come together to invest in things they all need, from community financing projects and local loan distribution, animal husbandry (specifically with goats), and healthcare services. The community was also invited by Mighty Peace to collaborate on a name for this coffee, to further illustrate that when everyone is involved in decision-making, the best choices are made. The word Mapendo means “love” in Swahili. In the interview linked above, Linda shares an extension of that sentiment: “...things have changed and there are more women in the sector now. [...] I’ve noticed a greater appreciation for women-produced coffee. I believe that’s a result of the love and attention to detail that women bring to everything they do.”
Meet the Artist Behind The Village
As a product that features seasonally rotating coffees from valued relationships with female producers, we hoped to reflect the diversity of stories and perspectives as well as origins in the label artwork. To do so, we had the privilege of working with the incredible Costa Rica-based illustrator, Erica Zeledón Salazar to bring the concept to life. We were drawn to her use of vibrant colors and texture, as well as how she uses symbolic elements to connect her ideas to the natural world.
We had a chance to speak to Erica about what inspires her work, and specifically the design for The Village.