A New Women’s Cooperative in Java

Over the last few years I have found space in the coffee industry to express myself as a successful woman. I founded Catracha Coffee and I am the Marketing and Outreach Director for Royal Coffee. I want to use my position with Catracha and at Royal to support other women in the coffee industry. After all, I would not be where I am today had it not been for the incredible support of others in the industry.

Royal also strives to source coffee that supports women because we believe the impact will be good for everyone in the supply chain. Peter Radosevich from the Royal sales team recently made such a connection with a group of women producers from the Java Mountain Women’s Coffee Cooperative. This coffee not only stands out from a quality perspective, but also for the aspirations these women bring for generating social impact in their communities.

It is particularly important to support women coffee producers. Women are often responsible for much of the labor output, from picking cherry to hand sorting coffee before it is exported. However, there are many obstacles for women producers. Land ownership, access to capital and technical support, and cultural bias all limit the number of women who own and operate their own farms.

So how can the rest of the supply chain support the development of women producers? My response is simple, buy coffee from the women who are blazing the trail. If these women thrive, I believe they will reach out and support other women in their communities. And not just with more coffee production. Women who have more access to capital have the power to create other businesses and diversify their sources of income. Women will use their economic power to educate themselves and their children. Women also spend their money on things like home improvements, which helps the men in the community diversify their income working on these construction projects.

It is often difficult to do justice to the complex backstory of a coffee, with production details only giving a snapshot of the complete journey. The way Peter tells the story, our involvement started off with a social media connection, an exchange of emails, and samples were sent to Royal that stood out on the cupping table. Then the long hard work of getting the coffee shipped began. This was not easy (and it rarely is) because the amount of available coffee was less than a full container and Java Mountain did not have the experience or ability to export to the United States on their own. Other exporters are often unwilling to lend a hand because a new organization is perceived as competition. Peter and the logistic team at Royal did not give up. The Royal team walked Java Mountain through the requirements and leveraged other Royal export contacts in Indonesia to consolidate the coffee into a container bound for the United States.

We are excited to announce that the first ever US shipment of Java Mountain Women’s Cooperative coffee has arrived at the Royal warehouses in California and Wisconsin. The coffee is also available as a Crown Jewel.

Java Mountain Women’s Coffee Cooperative was founded in 2016 with an association of 50 women. Two percent of the proceeds from the sale to Royal has been reinvested in a Women’s Empowerment Innovation Fund.  This fund is designed to equip women producers with farm management and quality control training; certification assistance; and a nursery program where women will have access to seedlings of coffee, citrus, bananas, timber and rubber trees necessary for diversified farm renovation.

I recently spoke to Zaza Fetriza at Java Mountain about the impact of the Royal sale on the cooperative. She told me that the proceeds from the Royal sale helped fund their Fairtrade certification program when another funding source was unexpectedly cancelled. She also explained that the Royal partnership has opened the US market and the demand for more coffee sales, which in turn will help the cooperative include more women.

Royal has brought the coffee to US market. Now it’s time to buy and create demand for more of the same from these trailblazing women.