Using coffee as a means to facilitate change

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Using coffee as a means to facilitate change


The 17th Seoul International Cafe Show was held from Nov. 8 to 11 at Coex in southern Seoul, and featured some 600 companies in the coffee industry. [YONHAP]

Hundreds of people followed the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans to Coex in southern Seoul on a recent weekend for this year’s Seoul International Cafe Show, which wrapped up its four-day run on Nov. 11. Some 600 companies from 40 different countries, ranging from coffee roasters to paper straw manufacturers had set up booths in all four halls of the Coex Convention Center.

To make this year’s event special, organizers also held a forum and invited Kellem Emanuele, president of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), to deliver a speech. To learn more about the organization, the Korea JoongAng Daily interviewed Emanuele via email prior to the event. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

Q.What is the role of IWCA?


Kellem Emanuele, President of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. [PR ONE]

A. The IWCA’s role is to empower women to work inclusively to address significant challenges in their communities. The IWCA mission is to empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.

We pursue empowerment through a focus on leadership development, strategic partnership, and market visibility. This focus is locally-driven by women and men working together to develop and deliver solutions to the challenges their communities face. While the specific challenges IWCA members are working to address range based on country and community, they are globally united in support the IWCA mission.

What causes gender inequality in the coffee industry? What effort has been made to achieve gender equality in coffee industry?

While I am not a perfect expert in gender equality or gender inequality, I do know that the root causes are complex. It is exciting to see that so many organizations are focused on these issues and sharing their experiences, because gender equality is linked to addressing so many global issues. There are so many positive efforts - from multi-stakeholder collaborations that recognize the issue’s importance as key to sustainability efforts, to NGOs specifically focused on tools and approaches to address gender equality, to individual companies looking at how they can and need to make changes.


A visitor takes a picture of coffee cups at the Cafe Show’s Latte Art section.[YONHAP]

Korea’s cafe scene has transformed dramatically in the past few months because the Korean Ministry of Environment began regulating Korea’s plastic waste problem by banning cafes from using disposable cups when customers are drinking inside. What do you think about this regulation? How can the coffee industry take part in environmentally friendly activities?

I think the coffee industry, much like any industry, can take part in minimizing the industry’s negative environmental impact. I also think it’s important to remember that we each have a role to play - from consumers to regulators. The more we are willing to look at our individual and collective choices and consider their consequences, the better able we will be to design meaningful solutions that strengthen the industry and ensure a sustainable future.

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