Life of a coffee farmer Life of a coffee farmer

The Life of a Coffee Farmer Today

Worldwide coffee consumption has reached over 400bn cups a year, and the global popularity is down to the hard work of every stakeholder in the coffee supply chain. 

Fulfilling today’s extreme demand starts with the fundamental role of coffee farmers. But how does a coffee farmer mitigate the impact of climate change on their crops? And what’s the role of the wider coffee communities?

The communities in the coffee-growing countries and the role of female coffee farmers

Since 2004, the Lavazza Foundation has actively promoted and financed a diverse range of initiatives to enhance economic, social, and environmental sustainability. These initiatives focus on community care projects in coffee-producing countries. And they’re made possible through partnerships with NGOs, international agencies, public and private entities, roasters, and traders that work closely with the coffee-growing communities.

The coffee industry is made up of women and men who contribute every day to its prosperity. But there are considerable gender inequalities to be tackled. For example, 70% of the coffee grown in the world is harvested by women, but only 20% of coffee-growing land is owned by women – and their decision-making role at the economic-financial level is still insignificant.

This is why the promotion of women's rights is at the heart of the projects developed by the Lavazza Foundation. We’re committed to empowering women with cross-cutting objectives: from the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices to the fight against climate change. The focus is on vocational and entrepreneurial training projects, as well as educational paths to improve self-confidence and encourage independence. 

An incredible story of such empowerment started in 2016, in a village nestled in the green mountains of Guatemala, in San Lucas Chiacal San Cristóbal Verapaz. It’s here that the Mayan Poq’omchi ethnic women-only indigenous community resides. The community primarily comprises of women, due to the devastating effects of a 30-year-long civil war that has ravaged the area and caused widespread poverty.

The Lavazza Foundation collaborated with the local NGO, Verdad y Vida to revive family-owned coffee-growing businesses led by a group of resourceful women. Today, 180 women have made remarkable progress in coffee production and marketing, resulting in a positive impact on their own lives and the wider community of over 1,000 people.

Women farmers changing the world of coffee: Elvira’s story

The promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women is a key objective of various initiatives in vulnerable nations like Guatemala. Female coffee farmers work tirelessly to enhance the standard of living for their families and communities, while also inspiring change for future generations of women.

Elvira Mó Salam is a 40-year-old woman who aspires to establish a coffee plantation amidst the pristine forests of Guatemala. She also lives in San Lucas Chiacal as part of the indigenous Mayan Poq’omchi community. 

Since her first harvest, Elvira has produced approximately 30kg of premium quality coffee beans. Alongside sustainable farming practices, she has started keeping records of her harvests and sales to effectively plan for future crops. This entrepreneurial approach was honed through her participation in the Coffee to be Reborn project.

Coffee communities around the world

The pressure of combatting the effects of climate change shouldn't only fall on the shoulders of farmers. That’s why vendors, distributors, and other parts of the supply chain are now supporting farmers by promoting sustainable practices.

At Lavazza, we’re committed to improving the environmental and social impact of coffee. Our Coffee & Climate project is dedicated to protecting cultivation by finding solutions that help producers preserve their plantations and produce high-quality crops. We constantly develop sustainability programs to enhance the social impact of coffee and educate coffee producers on how to protect the environment, while also understanding the economics of coffee production.

Through our Foundation we’ve launched several projects to promote sustainable agricultural practices. Our ¡Tierra! Project, set up in 2002, reaches out to small farming communities in Colombia, Peru, and Honduras. Now, the commitment of Lavazza Foundation has reached a further 19 countries, involving more than 180,000 coffee farmers and their families.

The ¡Tierra! Project helps to increase the availability of high-quality, washed Arabica blend products from 100% NGO Rainforest Alliance-certified sustainable agriculture. The impact of the project has been felt deeply in Meta, Colombia. We found that coffee production in the area had been abandoned for years due to internal armed conflict. Through the project, over 900 farming families have restored their plantations using sustainable techniques.  

This project ultimately led to the creation of two product lines:

  • Lavazza La Reserva de ¡Tierra!: a range of premium blends dedicated to professional baristas. Each blend includes coffee that brings with it the values that Lavazza embraces and implements in its projects.

    La Reserva de ¡Tierra! is synonymous with ‘sustainable excellence’ – a superior coffee, produced with thoroughly selected raw materials that are obtained from organic or Rainforest Alliance-certified farms.             

Lavazza Group is also committed to support local communities. Our training programme, A Cup of Learning began in 2017 and is dedicated to young people searching for job opportunities in the world of coffee.

Since 2017, more than 300 people from Italy, the Dominican Republic, India, Albania, Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Ecuador, Uganda, United Kingdom and Australia have benefited from the programme, acquiring the necessary skills to enter the working world.


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