Featured Coffee: Nicaragua La FEM
This month we feature coffee from La FEM (Fundación Entre Mujeres, or Foundation Between Women), from Nicaragua. Based in Estelí, a state just east of Managua, the Foundation Between Women is a collective of tradeswomen, educators, and farmers whose one purpose is to empower and support women in what remains a largely male dominated culture.
In their own words, the women of La FEM believe in the right of women everywhere to be free from sexual and domestic violence. They promote reproductive rights and women’s health, protection of natural resources, and economic autonomy for all women. The scope of La FEM is wide, and includes women’s health initiatives, literacy projects, political organization, and economic development projects. Most members of La FEM support themselves and their families by growing coffee. They are also subsistence farmers, and have recently been developing trade schools for girls.
In about 2010, our Cooperative Coffees partner Just Coffee Coop from Madison, WI connected with La FEM, and were immediately struck by the strength and resourcefulness of the women, most of whom are single mothers. One of La FEM’s biggest struggles since their foundation in 1995 was building a reliable pipeline to the global coffee market. Just Coffee shared this story with Heine Brothers’ and other Coop Coffees members, and without hesitation we laid the foundation for a partnership with these farmers.
The ensuing years have been a struggle for the farmers and our relationship. As with all other coffee farmers in Central and South America, the women of La FEM have been hit hard by la roya. In 2013 the coffee leaf fungus reduced yields in Estelí by 50% to 60%. The crisis nearly broke the coop. With the 2014 harvest things appear to be turning around, both for quality and total production. We’re very pleased to offer one of the tastiest coffees we’ve purchased from La FEM since 2011. It is very smooth, with a medium body and little acidity. Overall, a nice clean coffee, that is nutty, a bit spicy, with a soft cocoa and cherry aftertaste. This makes a great breakfast coffee, or one that you could sip on all day.
For more on the organization called La FEM, check out the excellent video produced by our partners at Just Coffee Coop and Higher Grounds Trading Co.