Perkee Coffee – Fairtrade and Sustainable

Pic - Gareth Iwan Jones
Pic – Gareth Iwan Jones

Event catering is all about glamour and glitz, divine food and slick service. However we believe there is so much more impact it can have. How? Answer: by decisions we make on what we buy.

Within the parent company of our business, which is more corporate led the subject of sustainability and corporate social responsibility is a big driver. It’s something the bartlett mitchell parent company has won many awards for, and remain (till next week), the champion! This was by achieving the highest scores at the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and therefore the most Sustainable Food operator when comparing against other hoteliers, restauranteurs and caterers

How can sustainability translate into the event world: should it and how can its success be measured?

One area we feel we can make a difference with is our choice of coffee supplier. We have therefore decided that to make a difference the coffee we serve will be from the Soppexxca community in Nicaragua, a female led cooperative that makes lives better for women farmers. The brand is Perkee (

We had the privilege of meeting one of the framers Ana Maria Gonzalez Narvaez. Ana Maria is a single parent with a grown-up son.  She co-parents two younger children for her neighbour and looks after four grandchildren.  Ana Maria is a member of the Julio Hernandez Co-operative which has 42 members and was set up in 2002.

Ana Maria farms in the Jinotega region of Northern Nicaragua. She had never travelled outside Nicaragua but got her first passport, overcame her fears and travelled alone from her village to the UK so she could share the difference Fairtrade means to her village and her family’s life.  It’s not until you meet her you realise, and are in awe, of what she has achieved and also how important the cooperative and system of Fairtrade is to the community and what a difference it makes to her world.

Ana Maria was immensely brave to complete this trip into an alien world – far from her own. You only realise this when you see the pictures of her home and realise its rudimentary housing : log fire for stoves, unmade roads, and only recently electricity and internet. So when I mean stepping into the unknown it really was!

Ana Maria is petite, neat and with lush dark sun touched skin that is obviously used to daily exposure to life outside. She has owned her own land, (secured through a loan scheme that allowed her to buy it) which she has farmed for the last twelve years. She has been certified as Fairtrade coffee (and cocoa recently) and really having talked to her that is no mean feat. Apparently there are a lot of hoops to jump through to make sure the system is right for all – and the first hoop was learning to read and write at aged 26 as she didn’t have the opportunity of education- something she very much values for her children now.

When drinking our coffee you will know that every bean benefits these women. So whenever you pay the invoice for an event, and drink our coffee: a small part is going to help real women in a real community. The profit from the buying of the beans will help build roads, create schools, help them cope with the devastating effects of climate change and make sure there is a better future for all of them!

Wendy Bartlett MBE FIH