Kinyovu Washing Station // International Women's Coffee Alliance

 

A few days late for International Women’s Day, but I’m thrilled to share photos from my time in Burundi with International Women’s Coffee Alliance (and Charlie, on behalf of Blue Bottle).

IWCA is an international organization hell bent on empowering women in the coffee industry, and specifically the very-male-dominated producing side of the industry. The truth is women are farming everywhere, all of the time, but in lots of countries it is the men who are delivering the cherries or parchment - and receiving the cash. Whether or not they share the earnings fairly with their wives and families varies from culture to culture, community to community, man to man. There are a only few gender equality initiatives at work right now working to balance this inequity and International Women's Coffee Alliance is at the forefront. Another great one is Partnership for Gender Equity.

International Women’s Coffee Alliance has 22 in-country chapters throughout the producing world, and I was lucky enough to tag along with their Burundi chapter (and Charlie, representing Blue Bottle) at Kinyovu washing station near the province Kayanza, Burundi. We were greeted with singing and dancing and thousands of farmers - all there to celebrate the year’s first quality premium - a bonus for a successful harvest - being handed out to each of the female farmers of the washing station. 

IWCA has worked with over 1,000 female farmers to not just help them improve the quality of their coffee - thereby able to sell their coffee for better prices - but to also help them establish financial equality and independence within their family. The IWCA chapter in Burundi, led by longtime leaders in the local industry, developed a profit-splitting initiative with Kinyovu Station a couple years ago. On this afternoon, the IWCA-Burundi board handed out the earned premiums to each of the women involved - requiring the important step that each women, one by one, meet with the treasurer to count, sign for and receive their money in person. 

Excitingly for all of us, Blue Bottle purchased this coffee and is serving it in some cafes now. You can also order IWCA's Kinyovu coffee online.

 

 

on leaving los angeles // california travel + adventure photographer

 

I moved to LA in February of 2008. I was in a hotel room in Tennessee when Heath Ledger died, I drove through a hail storm in Arkansas with my shoulders tensed at my ears, I marveled at the wind turbines as we cruised west on the 10, through the desert, inching towards the sea.

The last seven years have been so full. I have lived a few lives here in LA, I've changed jobs and apartments and somehow grown into this woman that my fifteen year old self would recognize, be proud to know. The in-betweens, less so.

In 2012 I started spending time in Northern California - helping two friends plan their wedding - and I fell in love. First with the air, then the trees and the beaches, then with the roads and the stones and the cities on the Bay. I dreamed of moving, I visited often, I built a business with my eventual life up there in mind. If you've ever wondered why I've been offering free travel throughout California since 2013, this is it. 

In the winter of 2014, I decided it was time. Then I met Charlie. In LA. And I knew that I could love him well, and I thought that he might love me well, if we gave ourselves the time. Oh, and work was piling up here. And so I stayed.

If you don't know Charlie: he's very nice and he used to roast coffee. Blue Bottle bought the company he roasted for a few months after we started dating, and he became a full-time coffee buyer. We loved "commuting" to Oakland together - I'd drive up to shoot a wedding and he'd tag along and spend time at HQ. We'd visit with my friends, and his family, and we grew into each other and into our little double-citied life. 

We moved into a lovely little apartment on the beach in Venice together. We surf and drink coffee and make dinners and listen to the sounds of a never-quiet street as we fall asleep at night. It's really lovely. A dream. But work is piling up in Oakland. A couple months ago, we decided it was time to head north.

So this is an end for me, and a beginning. On August 30th I'll pack up my belongings and I'll try out a brand new city in a part of California that has always felt like home.

And in the meantime, I'll take in as much as I can, and I'll share it with you here. So keep coming back for more tiny, visual love letters to LA. 

Below: the morning of July 9, Venice Beach Pier with my favorite Elli P