Last Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of attending Alchemy’s Women in Coffee Event at Lantana London Bridge to meet 3 incredibly inspiring women in the speciality coffee industry, paving the way for future generations of aspiring female coffee-preneurs.
Lucia Ortiz– Las Mercedes Farm, El Salvador
Coffee production has been in her family for generations, so it’s safe to say coffee is in her blood! Lucia’s and her family’s approach to coffee production can be filtered down to two words: care and curation. This care is shown most clearly in how the farm workers are treated: many of the people working on the farm don’t know how to read or write, and so Lucia devised a brilliant system to enable them to pick the best of the coffee cherries- she paints her nails the same vibrant shade of red and gives them the nail colour too so that they have a visual of what to look out for! Lucia said that trustability is the most important thing within the coffee production business, and despite the challenges she has faced being one of the few female coffee producers, the trust she has gained between herself and the workers as well as the relationships built with customers and clients is what makes her such a phenomenal businesswoman.
Shelagh Ryan– Lantana Café
Lantana is a long-loved brunch spot amongst Londoners (me included)- bringing the brilliance of the antipodean brunch to the streets of London. Despite only being 10 years old, Lantana has gone from strength to strength and now is a major player on the speciality coffee scene. We have Shelagh to thank for this: co-owning the business with her family, Shelagh noticed a significant lack of quality coffee in London. With the exception of Monmouth Coffee and Flat White, there were very few establishments where Londoners could enjoy a quality brew and so she set out to change this. Lantana serves their very own blend of Alchemy coffee to their loyal customers- so loyal, that in Lantana Fitzrovia (their original café) Shelagh considers them all her good friends!
Lizzy Bassham– Lizzy’s on the Green
With her triple Time Out award-winning coffee shop in Newington Green, Lizzy has quickly become an icon within the industry. Despite the accolades and great success as a business owner, she has not lost sight of the community spirit that is so emblematic of her brand. Her café is both literally and metaphorically at the heart of the Newington Green community, and while she is serving premium Alchemy Elixir coffee nothing is above £7 on her menu and she only charges pensioners £1 for their coffees. Not many coffee shops in London can say the same, and her care for others is something we could all learn from!
Despite all the uncertainty about how our industry will be shaped in the future (Brexit, global warming etc.), there is one thing that we can be sure about: the women in our industry will continue to grow and be amazing leaders; they will never stop carving out space for future generations of women who strive to make a positive difference in the world of coffee!
As the business world slowly (but surely) evens out the playing field between men and women, the next decade will be an exciting time and will hopefully see more entrepreneurial women shaping this ever-changing industry for the better.
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