Monday, December 19, 2022

Agaseke women hold their 2022 general assembly

On Dec. 3 the Agaseke women of Kopakaki Dutegure cooperative held their general

assembly in Karongi district of Western Province, Rwanda. Among other decisions taken by the group of about 10 leaders, they decided they would use the women's premium from Artisan Coffee Imports to buy land this year. Artisan's customers, who pay $.136/lb green for the women's premium, paid a total of $1,080 to Agaseke this year, the highest amount ever.

On Dec. 1 a few leaders of the Agaseke women had an exciting field trip together. They visited their neighbors, the Ejo Heza women's coffee group. They learned a lot from this educational trip, for example Agaseke would like to plan to distribute the women's premium to each woman's own bank account in the future. The also appreciated seeing how the Ejo Heza women meet together once a week to cultivate their community plots of coffee. Agaseke is going to consider a similar program. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Ejo Heza Women hold ther 2022 General Assembly

On December 15, 2022, about 375 of the 400 members of Ejo Heza met at the

cooperative's big hall in Mushubati cell, Rutsiro district of Rwanda. Here they held their general assembly, an annual meeting held by cooperative groups like theirs to review the past year, discuss the new year and take questions from members. 

This is the one time during the year when all the farmers are informed about Artisan's program to pay premiums on the microlots purchased from the Ejo Heza women. In 2022 our premium amounted to 50 Rwf/kg cherry. The women decided to keep the funds from the 2022 premium (total $1,620) in their account and be added to the amount available for members to borrow. In this way, the premium will grow as interest is added.

The Ejo Heza officers also reported on the production from the women's community plots in Sure and Mushubati, and the cash amount paid for cherry was also reported as "farmer income." The work hours that the women had invested in the community plots was also reported, and the status of the women's microlending program. The lending program had earned 352,500 Rwf in interest during the year (approximately $355).

Queen’s Kape Catorce honors coffee with mindful sourcing and roasting

Kape Catorce (or KC14 for short) is a women-owned and operated coffee company based in Queens, NY. The name celebrates the Filipino-Colombian heritage of owner-partners Jewel and Jesica Martin-Ballard.

Founded in 2021, KC14 is focused on transparency, traceability, sustainability, women’s empowerment and mindfulness.

“Our sourcing process begins with research,” Jes shares. “We research all our business partners and trace every aspect of the coffee’s journey — from the hands that planted the seeds, cultivated and harvested them to those who export and import the beans. We reach out directly to importers and producers, verifying their ethical practices and ensuring they meet our standards of accountability.”

Jes and Jewel believe that coffee quality is about so much more than beans. “The best coffee is made with fair labor and transparent business practices,” explains Jewel.

It is this belief, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, that make Jes and Jewel perfect partners for Artisan Coffee Imports. 

The partners learned about Ruth Ann Church and Artisan Coffee through a fellow Artisan roaster, Amaris Gutierrez-Ray of Joe Coffee, who also founded Women in Coffee Project.

After delving into Artisan's mission and sampling our green, Jes and Jewel purchased a Rwanda microlot from the all-female Rambagira group of the larger DUKUNDE KAWA cooperative. They also purchased green from Dehab Bitewlign, whose farm is located in the buffer and core zones of the UNESCO Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Ethiopia.

Roasted with Intention

From the first sample roast, Jes and Jewel were inspired, and their goal was to honor the women who produced the beautiful beans. ”Our roasting process is as mindful as our sourcing practices," shared Jes, who roasts for the brand.

"Our roasting process aligns with the values of our company," Jewel added. "We believe the best coffee is ethically sourced and mindfully consumed. We're committed to honoring the work, talent and creativity of the people involved in every step of coffee production: from soil to cup.”

The roasting process for each coffee reflect that mindfulness:

  • Rambagirakawa: "We did four different sample roasts and fell in love with the subtle peach black tea notes we were experiencing in a few cups. We knew we wanted to accentuate those notes. For our final roast, we took our gas up to 85, did two big jumps and then started to to taper down by fives. We finished at 8:37, which brought out the lovely notes of peach and black tea that we enjoy."
  • Dehab's Diamond: "We approached this green very differently. It was a long, slow roast. Dehab's Diamond produced such a lovely clean cup, which is unusual for a natural. We fell in love with the strawberry and blueberry notes. Ethiopian coffees are so honest with their fruits, and we wanted to highlight those fruit flavors with a slow, gentle roast that honored the sweet berry flavors.”

Once roasted, the beans are packaged in bags featuring a short producer story and information on bean variety, origin, elevation, processing and tasting notes. “We help convey the coffee producers vision for their product,” Jewel shares. “We want consumers to understand that they are participating in an ethical sustainable supply chain.”