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Women in coffee: Guatemalan coffee professionals

To properly commemorate International Women’s Day, we want to recognize the hard work of all the women in the Guatemalan coffee industry, and especially those who are a key part of Dinamica.

Women are an essential part of the coffee supply chain, and we are honored to work with some fantastic professionals, from pickers, to roasters; they all impact the coffee industry.

We interviewed three outstanding coffee professionals who we admire for their exceptional work. Keep reading to learn about Isabela Minondo, Evelyn Rodas, and Gladis Melara and their contributions to the industry.

Coffee Producer: Isabela Minondo

Isabela “Isa” Minondo comes from a four-generation coffee producer family. However, in spite of growing up surrounded by coffee, spending time in her family’s farms in Antigua, her journey as a coffee professional began five years ago.

She studied Agricultural Economics and specialized in Food and Agribusiness Marketing and Management. Her first job in the industry was for the marketing team at Anacafé, Guatemala’s Coffee Association, where she put into practice her knowledge and discovered her passion for coffee.

“I always knew coffee was there. I knew what it was, but now I realize I didn’t know much about it until I started working in the industry. You think you know, but it’s not as easy as some may think; it’s more than just coffee”, she confessed. Additionally, she explained how with this job she got involved in different aspects of the chain, from working with producers to organizing Anacafé’s participation in coffee events.

With the birth of her first baby in 2018, Isa stepped down from Anacafé. However, she immersed herself in her family’s farms and mill, where she currently works alongside her father on the commercialization and quality control side of the business. Isabela enjoys spending time on the farms, connecting with other coffee professionals, and is passionate about the storytelling aspect of coffee: “coffee has a mystic side, there’s always a good story behind it”.

During the interview, Isa revealed that one of the main challenges she faces as a woman in the coffee industry is not having her opinion respected or taken into account. For instance, in matters of innovation, there is still a lot of work to be done. However, as a young woman, it is difficult to convince coffee professionals about these changes if she is not being heard. She declared that women have a lot to bring to the table and that, little by little, their voices will be heard.

“By nature, we pay more attention to detail. That makes it easier to pay attention to the client's needs or to what the farm needs”, Isa pointed out. Women pickers, for example, have an “attention to detail that can be tasted in the final cup. That meticulous work at the time of the harvest and selection has an impact on quality. It’s them who add that value to the cup. Their work in the farms is essential; they are a fundamental part of a cup with a good score”.

Isa’s advice: “Do not be afraid. Get involved in everything you can, learn, and don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something because you are a woman. Show them you can”.

Technician and trainer: Evelyn Rodas

Evelyn is a farm technician and works directly with coffee producers. She is an agronomist with over 20 years of experience working with small-scale coffee producers, as well as a professional cupper and trainer.

Evelyn is part of Asproguate's team. The organization works with approximately 1,800 producer partners, 60% are indigenous women from Atitlán, Acatenango and Chimaltenango. Asproguate supports these women by providing not only technical training but also introductory management courses, as well as encouragement to develop other businesses in the textile industry. The organization also developed a youth program to provide scholarships for children aged 8-16; 80% are female students.

Evelyn explained how the multiple challenges she faces as a woman in the industry have never stopped her. “Some people tell you can’t do something, but attitude matters; how you face those comments matters''. When she decided she wanted to learn how to cup coffee, she just started attending cuppings with buyers and cuppers. “After some time they realized I was good at it. Now I’m an intermediate SCA cupper,” she shared and added that women need to make themselves a place in the industry.

Evelyn thoroughly enjoys collaborating with people in the industry, “generating connections with producers and getting to know them is amazing”. These relationships impact her job directly. She has developed a trust that helps her understand and support producers on a deeper level. “We are friends and it is easier for them to trust me, to know we are here to help them”.

For Evelyn, claiming a place in the industry is one of the biggest obstacles she faces. “There is space, but you have to make it”, she admitted. It is uncommon to see women agronomists working in farms, “it still surprises many producers, especially since sometimes I need to provide training or courses to men”, she explained. Evelyn is proud to say her work has encouraged other women to start their journey as coffee professionals.

Evelyn’s advice: “You need to enjoy coffee and the coffee world”. Sometimes you start a job because you have to, because you don’t have another option, but you have to be passionate about your job. Another thing that I think is important is being “multifaceted” and learning as much as you can about different roles. Learn about farming, cupping, administrative work”.

Logistics: Gladis Melara

Since Dinamica’s foundation nine years ago, Gladis has been a part of the team. Her background in the coffee industry, however, started over 13 years ago. She is the mastermind behind our logistics. Gladis makes it possible for you to get your coffee on time! Not only that, but she coordinates all exports, making sure quality coffee arrives from the mill to each port.

Suffice to say Gladis has no easy job! Coordinating every container, shipment and all the paperwork is stressful. However, she excels at this endeavor while she enjoys it too. “Enjoying your job is an added value for the company. Treating clients well and making things work makes the workflow easier", she shared.

Gladis’ favorite part of the job is engaging with clients both national and international. She loves knowing she's partly responsible for the clients’ praise of Dinamica's excellent service and trust.

For her, one of the biggest challenges is “the inequality in the industry and that some people still think women are not as capable as men”. Nevertheless, Gladis believes women will show the industry they can achieve any goal, even if this means working double.

Gladis' advice: “If you put your mind to something, work until you get it. Don't be afraid to reach your goals. There will be obstacles, but if it's something you really want, don't be afraid. We are capable; set a goal and work for it”.

We must address the many challenges that women still face in the coffee industry and create an environment where they are heard and respected. In spite of these obstacles, fantastic professionals like Isa, Evelyn and Gladis, have managed to carve a place for themselves and shine at their job. At Dinamica we share with them their passion for connecting and engaging with other coffee professionals. We believe we will reach equality if we continue to prioritize the people in our industry, especially women, for their efforts directly impact the production of quality coffee that clients enjoy worldwide.

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