Melbourne coffee roaster 23 Degrees is named for the coordinates of the coffee-growing belt that wraps around the Earth. The women-led roaster is dedicated to using business to make a positive social and environmental impact, and has developed a range that makes women the focus of every part of the coffee production chain – from farming, to sourcing to roasting.
The special 23 Degrees range uses beans from the Women Coffee Growers Project, a program that helps a group of Colombian women from the war-ravaged Cauca region by giving them a sustainable income through farming coffee.
23 Degrees founder Tina Wendel, and roaster Anne Cooper, heard about the project through one of their green-bean importers, First Crop.
“They founded a project where women are incentivised, trained and educated to produce quality coffee,” says Wendel. “It allows the women access to health, education and housing, so naturally we thought it was a really great cause to support.”
Women involved in the program are educated in soil testing, organic fertilizer, tree health and selective picking. There are more than 2300 farmers involved in the project.
23 Degrees has teamed up with coffee subscription service Three Thousand Thieves to showcase the women-produced coffee. Three Thousand Thieves founder and owner Athan Didaskalou works to find new and upcoming coffee roasters, and then distributes those producers in a monthly delivery to subscribers.
“We’re super excited to be one of the launch partners for 23 Degrees. This is a big moment, I feel, not only for coffee in Melbourne, or Victoria, or even Australia, but from a global perspective as well. I think it’s the start of bigger things,” Didaskalou says. “I found out about the coffee that [Wendel is] sourcing from First Crop and I was impressed – female sourcers, female owners.
“It’s always been male owners and male producers from the farming perspective. What we’re wanting to see is a shakeup. I think women entering the back-of-house and showing us that they can do it better than anybody else is a sign of things to come.”