Celebrating Women in Coffee

As a part of Women’s History Month, Coffee Quality Institute featured a handful of women in coffee who work closely with the organization. In case you missed these features on our social media during the month of March, you can read about the women below in the order they were featured. For their full stories, check out our Facebook or Instagram @thecqi.

Kate Fischer

"I started as a barista and went and got a PhD in anthropology because I couldn't find the answers I wanted on the internet. After fieldwork on coffee and national identity in Costa Rica, I began working with the small producers of Catracha Coffee in Honduras. I soon found myself with questions about microbes and processing, so I entered the CQI Processing program. I still have questions, but at least I'm starting to get some answers!"


Polina Vladimirova - Q Instructor

"My heart is melting when students say: 'I do not care whether I have passed the cupping/tests or not, I have learned so much, that I am ready to share my knowledge, to train more, to achieve better result next time' or 'I am so happy that I had to take retakes, it helped me thoroughly focus on my skills and learn new origins' By the end of the Q week you will learn what an awesome cupper you could be and how diverse coffee is in every producing country."


Colombia Women in coffee

Since 2003, CQI has hosted trainings and formed partnerships with numerous organizations within Colombia. We’ve worked hard to integrate a common language of quality into its supply chain and we continue to provide training to meet the needs of the continuously evolving coffee landscape.



April Su Yin Nwet

April was born into her family business in Myanmar called Shwe Yin Mar Coffee, founded by her Armenian grandfather in 1980. Fate brought her back to Myanmar to be involved in the USAID funded Value Chain for Rural Development implemented by Winrock International, where she worked in a Coffee Value Chain project and learned more about Coffee from Crop to Cup (including CQI’s Q Grader and Q Processing Courses) which opened her mind, heart and senses to coffee quality and the lives of coffee producers.

First Q Processing Level 1 course in Africa taught by female Instructor

The first ever Q Processing Level 1 course to be taught in Africa was taught by Instructor Yimara Martinez Agudelo. The course was taught in October of 2018 in Rwanda at the Starbucks laboratory, less than a year after the inception of the Q Processing Program.



International Women’s day

Happy International Women's Day! We are an organization with a strong passion for empowering talented female coffee professionals. From the majority of our staff being women, to our arsenal of female Q Instructors and volunteers, to the Partnership for Gender Equity which was started by us years ago and has now become its own non-profit organization.



Noelia Villalobos

"I started in Coffee in 2005 and unlike most people in Costa Rica, I do not come from a coffee business family. However, growing up in a producing country, Coffee is always part of who you are! I consider myself very fortunate having the opportunity to be in contact with all the links of the coffee chain and trying to do our part to help strengthen it. You know the saying “we are only as strong as our weakest link.”


Rachel Peterson

Rachel is in charge of quality control as well as sales and marketing at Hacienda La Esmeralda.
"What I most love about coffee is that we have all of these hands that make it shine, from the harvesters to the end barista, every single hand in the life of the coffee can make it just a little bit brighter."


First ever all-female Q Processing Level 1 course

In February of 2019 CQI held its first ever all-female Q Processing Level 1 course. The course was a partnership with AFCA (African Fine Coffee Association) and was held in Kigali, Rwanda.




Cindy Wu

Cindy Wu is the founder of Coffeeland Inc. and a Q Grader and Q Processing Professional.
"What started out as a simple desire to open a coffee shop, turned into a journey that unraveled the world of coffee and completely changed my perspective on this very bean that we all love. It was during my farm origin visits that I discovered a profound appreciation for coffee and the socio-economic impact on producers and farmers.


Sara Morrocchi

"Growing up Indiana Jones was my hero. I too wanted to travel the world and face the challenges the adventure threw at him. Fast forward to present day, I am traveling the world with Vuna Origin Consulting - the company I founded. In my travels, I encounter countless passionate, driven and competent women. Together we face complex challenges and we tackle them along the way. Many have become mentors to me. Look forward to having more of these encounters in 2020!"


Ansha Yassin

With over 25 years of experience in coffee, Ansha Yassin is a true expert with knowledge and skills in the coffee business ranging from the farmer plot to the export process and cupping (Q grader) as well as a learning and studying coffee processing techniques (certified Q Processing Processional). She currently co-owns and is managing director of CoQua trading, which connects Ethiopian Exporters, coops/unions & individual farmers to strategic partners and buyers who support the supply of standards of fine green coffee beans.

Yenny Velázquez

Yenny is the advisor of public/private relations with the FNC, working on education, science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for Colombian coffee families through public/private partnerships. “I dream of the transformation of the coffee business through a new generation of educated, empowered, connected and entrepreneurial young coffee growers."


Shirin Moayyad

"The first time I ever visited a coffee farm was during my college year abroad in India. It was my brother-in-law’s family land and this was long before I imagined coffee would become my life’s career. Fast forward 25 years, as coffee buyer for Peet’s, visiting the Indian Estate we bought from and, lo and behold, it was directly next door to my brother-in-law’s farm. What goes around comes around."


Summer Zhang - Q Instructor

"I work for Onyx Coffee Lab in Northwest Arkansas. Similar to some other people, I joined the coffee industry with a dream to open my own coffee shop. While working in the industry I learned that there is so much that goes into producing coffee. I became interested in the whole journey from seed to cup since then. I appreciate and admire any hard work in the industry to help improve the quality of the final cup, and I'm happy that I can be one small part of it."


Ilaria Danesi

"I am from Rome Italy and my life is closely tied to coffee. My great-grandfather Alfredo was not only was among the first to spread the culture of traditional espresso in Rome, but he founded - over a century ago, way back in 1905 - Danesi Caffe, a family business run over time also by my grandfather Giovanni, then by my uncle Alfredo and my father Roberto, up to the fourth generation today, an all-female management represented by me and my sisters Giorgia and Giordana."


Su Su Aung

Su Su is the Managing Director at Leading Amayar Coffee Company which produces specialty coffee and provides exporting services to other countries. 10% of Amayer Coffee Company's profits go to empowering women for their capacity development. Her passion is raising the quality of coffee and in turn raising the living standards of households who produce coffee as well as finding new opportunities for women.


Emma Markland Webster

Emma could be described as one of the original dinosaurs of coffee in New Zealand. She’s the Director of Events for the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association, a dealer of grinders and roastery equipment for AMC and has her own ‘micro’ coffee company alongside the only certified SCA coffee lab in NZ and a School of Coffee to boot. She gives her time freely to support and grow coffee competitions worldwide."


Doña Flor Matilde Sacristán

“I am a coffee producer. Why? 1. I married a coffee producer and got linked into it. 2. I am producing a national product recognized worldwide for its quality. 3. I am a union representative working proudly in this department worldwide. Women work in all parts of the coffee industry. As moms, wives, and sisters of coffee producers, women attend to the farm and work with families that we collaborate with."


Melanie B. Edwards

Melanie is a native of North Carolina who has been living and working in the mountains of Myanmar for the past nineteen years.  She began rural assessment and community development work in 2001. Melanie helped establish Lilypad as a local company in 2006 with projects ranging from ceramic water filters, Moringa, natural farming, to raising rabbits and stink-free pigs.  Since 2015 Melanie has been leading an exploration into a specialty coffee initiative in southern Shan State called Behind the Leaf Coffee.


Fabiola Tombé Velasco

Fabiola has been the Legal Representative of the Association of Women Coffee Growers of Cauca AMUCC for over 20 years.
"I produce, together with 149 women from 9 municipalities of the department of Cauca. (High quality coffee, to delight clients in different parts of the world; where through our work, we generate development and progress for our families). My dream is that our organization has its own brand of roasted and ground coffee and that it is positioned at the national level, in the first instance."


Luz Stella Artajo Medina - Q Instructor

"As a Food Engineer/Ph.D I have been working in the coffee world for 12 years in different areas, I discovered my calling and when I become a professional consultant in cupping and processing, and started to share my knowledge with people. Being a Consultant / Instructor has allowed me to meet incredible passionate people, and also learn everytime that I have taken for the first time Q trainings in different countries. It is simply a way to understand diverse perspectives to finally enjoy a high quality coffee."


Francy Viviana Narváez Cerón

"I was the first in my family who had the possibility of obtaining a university professional degree as an Agriculture Engineer, and currently a second-year PhD student in Agro-Environmental Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. I am currently the Leader of the Cluster of Social and Technological Innovation in High Quality Cafes in Cauca, putting my talent and attitude of service to the coffee growing families of the region."


Kimberly Easson and the Partnership for Gender Equity

"I founded PGE to better understand the link between coffee quality, quality of life of farmers (in line w CQI mission) - and gender equity. PGE’s vision is for equitable value chains that work for everyone – meaning healthy households; empowered women, youth, and families; vibrant communities; and sustainable supply to meet the demands of a growing industry."



Thank you to all of the hard-working women who contribute to improving the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it. We look forward to featuring a new group of women next year!

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