This single-origin supports and empowers female coffee producers

March’s Roaster’s Pick coffee tastes great, and gives back.

Coffee farmer and Cafe Femenino co-founder Erlita Baca Arce with her daughter, Ketty, holding baskets of red hand-picked coffee cherries
Erlita Baca Arce and her daughter, Ketty, with fresh-picked coffee cherries from their farm.

Our single-origin Roaster’s Pick for the month of March – Peru Erlita’s Lot – comes to us from the finca (or, farm) of Erlita Baca Arce, one of the cofounders of Cafe Femenino®, a program created to support and empower female coffee producers. The program originated in Peru and has since grown into a movement, present in remote coffee-growing regions in nine countries.

Erlita’s circumstance was typical of many women working in coffee in Peru: while they have always been crucial to coffee production, men traditionally held the economic power. In 2004, 464 female coffee producers in Peru united to change this dynamic and take a step toward empowerment by creating the first Café Femenino co-op.

This coffee has so many delicious layers! On first sip, it has a deep fruitiness that reminds us of plum. It also has a rich, toffee-like sweetness and a full, creamy body.

Now that female coffee producers have a potential to get a better price for their coffee, men are often signing the deeds of their land over to their wives so the product is eligible for Cafe Femenino designation. Men supporting women’s work is helping to create healthier communities.

Erlita and the other women of Cafe Femenino are strong role models for their communities and are inspiring future generations. Her daughter, Ketty, is attending university and studying to be an Agricultural Engineer.

Erlita’s farm is in Nueva York, a small coffee community in the Amazonas region of northern Peru, east of the Andes Mountains. The Amazonas is a high-elevation area, typically 5700-6500 feet above sea level – ideal for coffee trees.

For the whole month of March (National Women’s Month): 

When you buy a bag of Peru Erlita’s Lot coffee, 10% of the proceeds go to an Early Education Center grant, benefitting the pre-school children of 15 communities in Peru.

For Monday March 8th, 7am-4pm
(International Women’s Day): 

Zingerman’s Coffee Company will be brewing Peru Erlita’s Lot coffee all day on Monday March 8th, in honor of International Women’s Day! 100% of the proceeds from your cup of coffee will be donated to an Early Education Center grant, benefitting the pre-school children of 15 communities in Peru. Stop by to support a great cause! 

An integral part of Café Femenino is the Cafe Femenino Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Working within the Café Femenino Program, the foundation funds projects that the women farmers prioritize. These projects foster positive change in gender equality and reduce poverty and abuse in the coffee-producing communities.

A word about this grant, from the Foundation: 

“The children in rural Peru are severely malnourished, this grant provides funds needed to educate the teachers, parents and students on food nutritional value and how to incorporate the foods into their daily diet with the goal of reducing malnutrition in the rural coffee producing communities in Peru. The Cafe Femenino Foundation has supported the implementation of this project since 2013. Each year the impact is measured by a visiting nurse taking and recording, the height and weight of the students ages 3-5 three times per year. In total, 230 students, 140 parents and 25 teachers in 15 rural early education centers will participate in this program. The curriculum for the early education center students also includes personal hygiene and dental care.

Funds will cover the cost of the traveling nurse, as well as materials needed for the early education centers such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, wash clothes, crayons, books, paper, glue, lunch boxes, mats for the floor where the children sit and play for each education center.

Desired results of this program are to contribute to the improvement of the nutritional status of the pre-school children in the 15 communities while providing the children and parents with information that increases their knowledge of proper nutrition, dietary resources available in their community and set them on a path of improved future health.”