Coffee That Aims to Brew World Change

Coffee that could help better the lives of women in Zimbabwe.

Who knew a cup of Joe could hold the promise of bettering the lives of women in one of the most impoverished countries in the world?

But that’s what San Rafael-based Equator Coffees’ new “Chido’s Blend” aims to do.

The coffee, a blend of three African beans, is named for Chido Govero, a 23-year-old woman from Zimbabwe, who was relegated to an orphanage after her mother died of AIDS. At age 12, this bright, young girl was discovered by a scientist with the ZERI Foundation, an organization dedicated to using science to come up with sustainable solutions to world problems. The scientist helped mentor Govero, teaching her how to analyze tissue cultures of local, wild mushrooms.

Govero and her colleagues at the university discovered that these incredibly nutritious mushrooms might hold the key to helping stricken communities better feed themselves. Zimbabwe, a landlocked African nation the size of Montana, has been plundered by a controversial land redistribution campaign that has crippled domestic food production. A quarter of the population suffers from AIDS. The country also has more orphans per capita than any nation in the world. Girls, especially, face significant dangers in this climate of scarcity.

Who knew a bag of coffee could hold such promise?

Now, Govero is teaching girls to find native mushrooms in their local areas, and to cultivate them for food and income. In this way, she hopes to give them jobs and a brighter future.

The mushrooms are cultivated using mulch composed of discarded organic materials, including husks from coffee beans. The mushrooms also provide more than food for humans. Their spores transform mulch into fiber-rich feed, which can be fed to goats and other livestock. In turn, the animal manure is composted for raising additional crops. Additionally, the mulch prevents emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by utilizing the agriculture waste from coffee production. The end result is a remarkable ecosystem.

You may be familiar with Equator Coffees because they are served at the French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro, and Bouchon Bakery. What you might not know is that it’s also a woman-owned company known for its commitment to social responsibility.

Equator got involved in this Zimbabwe project by setting up a network of international coffee importers who are helping to teach Govero and her apprentices how to best make use of the coffee pulp.

One hundred percent of profits from each $13.95 bag of the coffee goes toward helping Govero’s efforts to empower girls at risk. I tried a sample of the coffee, which is available for purchase on Equator’s Web site. It has the deep, dark color of a mud pie, and the flavors of earth and wood.

It’s a cup of Joe that satisfies — in more ways than one.

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Date: Tuesday, 18. August 2009 5:46
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: General, Going Green and Sustainable, New Products, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al

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13 comments

  1. 1

    Sounds like a great endeavor. I always love hearing about stuff like this so keep the stories coming.

  2. 2

    Thanks so much for this post! I am linking to it on FB.

  3. 3

    Great story, Carolyn. The fact that all 100% of the proceeds go to a good cause is terrific. That’s transparency. A little of our USD goes a long way elsewhere!

  4. 4

    I recently came across Thousand Hills Coffee from Rwanda. It’s wonderful coffee and they’re building a girls’ school with proceeds. Here’s a piece that Bella English wrote on them: http://tinyurl.com/nh72qo

    With all the coffee I drink, I have decided it’s one of the ways I can make a daily choice that matters to more than some large industrial company’s bottom line. Coffees like these two make a difference to many lives as well. That’s comfort in your cup!

  5. 5

    What a good news story of the sustainable growing process! Great info and great product.

  6. 6

    Wonderful story and so inspiring Love it, What an inspiration.

  7. 7

    you gave me so many reasons to try this coffee i feel like i need to print out the post and use a highlighter pen to highlight every reason. great post!!!

  8. 8

    Wonderful ! story I will try this Coffee !

    Thanks you for sharing wondrefulstory !

    Welcome~~~
    http://foodcreate.com

    Have a wonderful Day ~

  9. 9

    What a lovely story…can’t wait to try the coffee.

  10. 10

    That is a really neat story about how the coffee is used to help in so many ways.

  11. 11

    This coffee sounds excellent and how wonderful that the profits go to such a great cause!

  12. 12

    Hiya — I work with Equator on the Chido project, and just want to thank Carolyn and everyone here for your support. I’ve been working in organics and sustainable food issues for many years, and this has been one of the most inspirational projects I’ve worked on. Chido herself came to meet with the folks at Equator, and I had the pleasure of meeting her, too. Very humble, yet powerful individual. Chido has written her autobiography – it’s a rough story of a remarkable person. The book, which costs about $10, is published by ZERI (which Carolyn mentioned in her story), and all money from sales of the book support Chido’s work on the ground in Zimbabwe. You can find it at http://www.EquaotorCoffees.com/Chido. Also, for those of you on Facebook, if you become a ‘fan’ of Equator (www.facebook.com/EquatorCoffees) you can now purchase Chido’s Blend directly on Facebook (very new software enabling a shopping cart within Facebook). Warmest regards, and thanks again for your support (and the coffee is truly delicious :) // Michael Straus (Michael@StrausCom.com)

  13. 13

    Carolyln – warm thanks for writing about Chido. I met her this past spring when she visited Equator in Marin. She’s truly an inspiration! And the coffee is exceptionally good. Kudos on the FoodGal blog. You know I’m a loyal reader. Warmest,H

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