If you’re reading this blog and are familiar with our coffees, chances are you’ve had a chance to drink one of our favorites: the Siembra de Mujer.

The Siembra de Mujeres comes from western Guatemala; specifically, it grows in a region known as Huehuetenango. Very rural and extremely mountainous, Huehue (as many nickname it) is known for producing some of the tastiest coffee in the entire world.

Sowing of Women

I was fortunate to visit Huehuetenango this past February along with three other members of the Utopian crew: Brendon, Nick, and Nathan. Our primary purpose in being there was to meet several of the producer groups who contribute to the regional lots that make up the Siembra de Mujeres. This is a special project to us because the producer groups are exclusively women! This is where the name Siembra de Mujeres comes from. It translates to “sowing of women,” proudly denoting that the coffee is produced by female landowners and coffee producers.

We landed in Guatemala City and spent the night in the old Spanish colonial town and former capital of Guatemala, Antigua. After a full day of travel, we ended up in a small town in the mountains of Huehue called Pajal. There, we were greeted by a group of about 20 women and also by our hosts while in-country, an agricultural organization and cooperative named ACODIHUE.

Carlos in Guatemala

Carlos Hernández answers questions about ACODIHUE’s involvement in Pajal.

ACODIHUE was born in the mid 1990s out of the post civil war era in Guatemala as a means of encouraging and providing tools to the farmers in Huehuetenango. Many farms were left abandoned in the 1980s and 1990s as Guatemalans fled the surrounding wartime violence, and many farmers needed help financially to begin producing crops again.

The Women of Pajal

The women led us up dusty paths to the top of a field where they introduced themselves to us, and we introduced ourselves to them. They spoke lovingly of their ‘compañeros de trabajo,’ or coworkers, with whom they had banded together for the mutual success of their community. I was profoundly impressed by the independence and joy and fierce pride that emanated from the faces of the women as they briefly shared their stories, one by one. It is clear that they are immensely proud of the fact that they can provide for their families by farming coffee. They are also very proud that their coffee is organic and of such a high quality that they can attract buyers from the United States. Much of this is due to the support of ACODIHUE, who provide access to many of the resources that these farmers need in order to keep their fields organic; products like mineral compounds for fertilizer and mineral soups that help fortify coffee shrubs to combat crop killing diseases.

Vista Hermosa

Dialoguing about coffee harvest in Pajal

Dialogue about the coffee harvest in Pajal.

The next day, we visited another small community called Vista Hermosa, or ‘beautiful view.’ No kidding. We were joined on the front porch of our host, Doris Escodedo Cano, by 40 of the 50 women who make up the local female coffee producer organization. Our team sat mostly in silence, occasionally applauding and often thanking the women for their hard work in producing the coffee we enjoy so much. We laughed and cheered as our hosts spoke of the joy in their work, and of their victories despite the difficulties of fighting for equality in their rural community. This is all made possible by the purchase of their green coffee, for above-market pricing.

The beautiful view from the front porch of Doris Escodedo Cano

The beautiful view from the front porch of Doris Escodedo Cano.

This is why we do what we do at Utopian. Through our beneficial partnerships, we can elevate those who have been marginalized. Through our investments in producer relationships, we can help tell the stories of those who otherwise may not have a voice.

There are always going to be challenges in the coffee industry, but this trip continues to inspire me as we think through why we travel to other countries to invest in our partnerships. As always, when I come home from international travel, I arrive with more humility and with more gratitude than when I left. So, the next time you sip a cup of Siembra de Mujeres, think of the strong women who work tirelessly to make that possible.

And always, to those who drink the coffee we are privileged to roast and share, thank you for making an impact.

Salud,

Levi

 

 

The ladies of Pajal.

The ladies of Pajal.

Suli Granados Escodedo (in red) is leading the next generation of empowered female producers in Vista Hermosa

Suli Granados Escodedo (in red) is leading the next generation of empowered female producers in Vista Hermosa.

An example of the mineral soups provided by ACODIHUE to organically fight disease and promote coffee shrub health

An example of the mineral soups provided by ACODIHUE to organically fight disease and promote coffee shrub health.

Bonus picture of our roaster Nick becoming one with the coffee shrubs

Bonus picture of our roaster Nick becoming one with the coffee shrubs.

Carlos Hernández of ACODIHUE gets sticky in some drying coffee at a wet mill in Vista Hermosa.