Dedicated to more than just growing and exporting coffee, Las Diosas - La FEM (The Goddesses - Foundation between Women) is a dynamic female-led cooperative committed to selling quality Fair Trade coffee while simultaneously supporting and promoting women`s rights. The cooperative is located east of Managua in the department of Estelí where much of the land is devoted to tobacco production and largely controlled by male producers. Las Diosas - La FEM consists of four smaller cooperatives, each managed by its own Directiva (female director). Fiercely independent and determined to succeed in the coffee industry, the 132-member cooperative has made much progress since their founding in 1996, both in terms of coffee sales as well as the promotion of issues such as women's education and health.
Under the direction of the Development Committee, La FEM is engaged in community development projects primarily focused on issues concerning women. Many of the women living in the department of Estelí are lacking in basic education and health care. In Condega, one of the six women and municipalities of Estelí, La FEM has established an alternative school where young women are encouraged to take up traditionally male-dominated trades such as carpentry, welding, construction, etc. Not only does this form of education teach them useful skills, it enables the women to gain independence from the men and create employment opportunities for themselves. In addition to their special projects, the Development Committee explores political topics and writings, often analyzing the legitimacy of Fair Trade and where it stands in a market dominated by neoliberal principles.
Coffee production is a traditional form of agriculture in Estelí but the use of chemical fertilizers for easing mass production has taken over older methods of production. La FEM, however, has maintained their efforts in organic methods. One collective of women in the Cope Mujeres owns a common piece of land, dividing the work and income equally. Since their inception, many of these collectives have received prices comparable to Fair Trade prices. Before becoming a producer partner with Cooperative Coffees, La FEM was already exporting coffee to a German group under fair trade terms. However, they were disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm on the buyers` part to co-partner with them in an initiative to go beyond selling coffee. Clearly, these women are invested in more than just the beans.
Geographic Location: Estelí, east of Managua -- Varietals: Arabica – Bourbon; Caturra -- Altitude: 950 - 1200 meters _______________________________________________________________________________
Read about Bean North Coffee's donation of Big Red a beautiful small-batch coffee roaster, to the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative in Nicaragua in the fall of 2010 here.
The Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias (UCA) SOPPEXCCA was founded in Jinotega in 1997, and they joined the international coffee market in 1999. They started with fewer than 70 men and women coffee producers who participated in this process. In the course of the following years more and more coffee producers took part in this project. Today the 650 men and women producers with their families are organized in 15 cooperatives in the UCA SOPPEXCCA. The cooperative has developed a model of broadly conceived democratic participation of each and every producer, including a youth movement. This movement has already produced a lot of coffee inspectors, barristas, counsellors for the improvement of quality, environmentalists and groups of young painters. The youth movement also prepares literacy programs, as well as music and cultural education.
The cooperativa has set up a program which is called Muchachitos del Café (Children of Coffee). Among its most important contents are elaborating alternative structures of leadership, participation, environmental education, culture and sport. The underlying model is based on the sustainability of a humane environment, on the responsibility for one's own organization and on the participation of all spheres to change the living together of mankind in the sense of more harmony and equality of the sexes. This model is applicable in every organization which is interested in the broad participation of its members and in the social actors' thinking and acting progressively. UCA SOPPEXCCA has received various acknowledgements and awards for the quality of its produced coffee and for the high level of cooperation with the men and women producers. The working and living conditions of the members and the standard of education in the referred-to areas have highly improved.
We use this amazing coffee in our Tombstone Espresso blend
Geographic Location: Located in Jinotega and surrounding regions
*Information courtesy of UCA SOPPEXCCA
CECOCAFEN, the Coffee Cooperatives Central in the Northern Regions, is an umbrella organization promoting and selling quality coffees from nine cooperatives. The basis of their operation rests upon: producing a quality coffee, establishing programs for ecological practices, and offering equitable opportunities for integrated development of their members’ communities. During visits to the region, we consistently witness these three elements at work.
Their Fair Trade coffee sales have grown steadily, and so have the numbers of children able to participate in CECOCAFEN’s high school, technical training and university scholarship program. Some 428 children of partners have taken advantage from these program. These young students are studying careers related to the life in the cooperatives. In exchange they provide a 100 hours of work to the organization. They help provide a service of adult education in the cooperative. In one year, 32 young people helped 375 adults to learn how to read and write.
At Cooperative Coffees we are proud to partner with CECOCAFEN, and to be able to play a part in creating dignified solutions to the problems these farmers confront on a daily basis.
With fair trade premiums and development credits, CECOCAFEN was able to purchase the SolCafé processing plant, equipped with ample drying beds, a complete line of sorting machines and a fully equipped cupping laboratory. Internalizing these steps for processing and testing allows CECOCAFEN to improve quality control and to negotiate significantly better prices for the farmers.
In the future, CECOCAFEN will try to be more competitive, since the growth in both the fair trade and the organic market has attracted bigger producers. They will try to increase the productive yield of their plantation to lower costs of production, maintain coffee quality, and improve the standard of living of their members. Also, they would like to increase their sale of coffee and reach better prices for it. They will also try to diversify their production.
We're sorry - CECOCAFEN/Matagalpa coffee isn't available at this time
Geographic Location: Located in Matagalpa, Jinotega and surrounding regions -- Varietals: SHB Arabica, Bourbon, Lempira, Caturra and some Catimor -- Altitude: 750 -1250 meters
PROCOCER (Cooperativa Multisectorial de Productores de Café Orgánico Certificado Las Segovias RL) grew out of the Nicaraguan Small Farmers and Ranchers Union initiative to provide intensive technical assistance to individual, organic coffee producers in the municipalities of Jícaro, Murra, Ciudad Antigua, San Fernando y Jalapa. From that first experience, 150 participants decided to continue working collectively and establish their own organization. The Cooperativa was formally registered in 1999.
Today PROCOCER has approximately 600 members. Membership is open and voluntary; and the organization is controlled democratically with members actively participating in decision-making and policy making for the co-op. Representatives are chosen from the farmer groups in their distinct geographical territories to participate in the delegates’ assembly, and are required to report back directly to the communities they represent. In 2003, PROCOCER became one of the founding members of the Association of Cooperatives of Small-Scale Producers (CAFENICA) – which helps promote member-organizations’ coffee and gain support for business management projects. They also are part of the CECOCAFEN central coordinating union of coops, which is now their main source for pre-harvest financing, and export channel and quality control for their Fair Trade and organic green coffee. PROCOCER coffee is known for its consistently solid cup profile – bright acidity, full body and balanced with deep tobacco, sweet vanilla and soft fruit flavors.
Since 2005, PROCOCER has partnered with a number of local and international allies, helping them to develop their own roasted coffee brand, “El Doradito” for the local market, and facilitating additional technical assistance to strengthen their organization, improve quality control, and improve administration capacity. In 2005, PROCOCER presented their Rural Tourism project to the Nicaraguan United Nations Program and were awarded initial support to enhance their general understanding of the potential for tourism in Las Segovias and their internal capacity to manage the project, as well as some of the up-front costs of the basic infrastructure needed to further develop the project. PROCOCER maintains a clear mission: to strengthen the organizational and financial capacity of the coop, increase their productive yields, and assure the quality of their coffee in order to meet the demands of the specialty coffee market. They are also working hard to diversify productive and economic activities, in order to improve the well-being of their member families while conserving the environmental balance and natural beauty of their region.
Geographic Location: The municipalities are located in the Nueva Segovia Department -- Varietals: Lempira & Parainema -- Altitude: 600 -1350 meters