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 consists of four smaller cooperatives, each managed by its own Directiva (female director). Fiercely independent and determined to succeed in the coffee industry, the 250-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, housing and health.
The women of Las Diosas have been working hard to improve their production capacity – using intensive organic practices and expanding opportunities in local, national and international markets. But despite their best efforts, their region was hard hit with the leaf rust fungus that has spread across much of Latin America, leaving many of their members with up to 60% reductions in their harvest for the coming years. It will be a long road to recovery, as they systematically plan out and implement a wide-spread field renovation plan. In the meantime, Las Diosas is supporting members with a revolving credit fund to help them establish household vegetable gardens, and raise chickens and pigs for their local consumption and sale.
Las Diosas works closely with La Fondacion entre Mujeres (La FEM), or Foundation between Women, with their development project work focused on issues concerning women’s health, universal access to education and economic and moral support for single mothers. For example, in Condega, 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 economic independence by creating new employment opportunities for their members. In addition to their special projects, the Development Committee explores political topics and writings, including an analysis of the challenges facing Fair Trade as an alternative model living within an international marketplace dominated by neoliberal principles.
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 different 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.
Located in Estelí, east of Managua at 1000-1200 meters -- Varietals: Arabica – Bourbon; Caturra _______________________________________________________________________________
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.
Located in Jinotega and surrounding regions at 1200 meters -- Varietals: Arabica – Bourbon, Typica & Caturra
We use this amazing coffee in our Tombstone Espresso blend
CECOCAFEN (Central de Cooperativas Cafetaleras del Norte)was founded in 1997 with initial investments from their 500 producer members and financing support from international lending organizations in order to export their first containers. Today, CECOCAFEN represents some 2,600 farmer families in twelve community based. As a unique umbrella organization in the region, CECOCAFEN’s raison d’être is to support members’ production capacity and to promote and sell its members’ coffee in direct and fair trade export contracts to these coveted international niche markets. With their expert quality control staff in the SolCafé processing plant and cupping lab, they offer producer members quality assessments and advice for continual improvements to production and processing practices. With producing communities located in the mountains of Matagalpa, Jinotega and Las Segovias – renowned for rich volcanic soils, high altitudes, and a humid tropical climate – CECOCAFEN members are well positioned to produce consistently high-quality coffees with unique flavour profiles from each of the regions.
Over the course of our lengthy relationship with CECOCAFEN and its cooperative members, we have witnessed the growth and development of their organization. We have worked together to: organize some of our initial region-wide producer and roaster exchange events; source special profile coffee lots to meet our members’ needs; and support each other through the ever-changing landscape of specialty, organic and fair trade markets. In addition to the smooth operations that have put more than 2.6 million pounds of coffee on the water and eventually to Coop Coffees roasters’ docks, CECOCAFEN has successfully supported local development of their communities through eco-tourism initiatives, a micro-lending program for women entrepreneurs, youth education scholarships from primary up to university levels and many social and cultural activities.
The foundation of their operational success rests upon staying focused on three basic elements: 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 elements reinforcing each other in the field.
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.
Located in Matagalpa, Jinotega and surrounding regions at 750-1250 meters -- Varietals: SHB Arabica, Bourbon, Lempira, Caturra and some Catimor
Unfortunately, CECOCAFEN/Matagalpa coffee isn't available at this time