International Women in Coffee

To Celebrate International Women’s day The Library Café have been campaigning to raise awareness of women in the coffee and hospitality industry, an industry which is dominated by women workers yet neglects to show gender equality within its top positions. A Food and Agricultural Organisation report from 2010-2011 shows that within the industry, women work 2/3 of the worlds working hours, yet only earn 1/10 of its income. If women were given access to the same productive resources as men, women could increase yields on their farms by 20-30% raising agricultural output by 2.5-4%. It would be hugely beneficial for the industry to embrace this year’s slogan for International Women’s Day: Balance for Better.

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance aims to “empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry”. The organisation started in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the US, and has since spread worldwide through supporting a global network of “independent, self-organized, and self-governing organisations” which the alliance refers to as ‘chapters’ which feature all over the coffee producing world including Guatemala, where the coffee that the Library Café serve is sourced from.

Our new coffee is produced through Curve, a speciality roaster based in Margate in Kent. Curve aims to make a high-quality speciality coffee which is better received by its customers and therefore sells better, providing a higher income to the workers all over the world who contributed to the product: this is achieved by producing single origin coffee rather than blended beans of only the highest quality coffee beans. Curve’s goal “is to honour the work of the farmers and to make the experience of the baristas and consumers exciting and delicious. By sharing information, stories and skills we hope to bring those two worlds closer together and appreciative of each other”. And with 70% of the worlds estimated ‘1 billion poor’ being women, it’s a gap that needs to be closed.

At the library café we, like most of the hospitality industry, are dominated by women. While we all love the work we are involved in, we appreciate that it is an industry that needs improvement. In its current state the industry is a low paid business for all involved but being that women dominate it only amplifies the gender pay gap. Women make up around 80% of the staff who work at the library café, including the majority of the student staff and the entirety of the management team which is an amplification of the accomplishments that can be made when supporting organisations such as The International Women’s Coffee Alliance, and should encourage women to apply for the top positions in this industry as it has been proven time and time again that balancing the gender roles within hospitality can only ever improve it.

“When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately: families are healthier; they are better fed; their income, savings and reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is true of communities and, eventually, whole countries.”

- Kofi Annan (1938-2018)