Three years ago, Equator Coffee and Teas partnered with Chido Govera on a rather unusual project. Govera, who grew up as an orphan in Zimbabwe, faced bleak options as a child. It wasn't until she jumped on a training at the local university that taught young women to grow mushrooms, that things began to change. Govera introduced her community to the vegetable, and churned out a viable living that lifted herself, her brother, and grandmother from poverty. When she shared the skill with other women in the community, things changed for them too
Soon after, Govera discovered a fertile goldmine in coffee grounds and the pulp left over from processing green coffee, and began growing mushrooms out of them. The system utilizes coffee processing surplus in undeveloped, coffee-growing countries, and turns waste into a nutritionally-dense asset. She now travels the world on an empowerment mission, teaching women to grow. Her ideas have given rise to a few entrepreneurial ventures in our own backyard -- look no further than the shelves of Whole Foods to find a sleek DIY kit for growing your own out of coffee grounds. Although, while mycelium window boxes might be a quaint symptom of our sometimes overzealous obsession with micro-homesteading, for women in Tanzania and India, it can be a mighty powerful tool.
Equator, being the women-owned socially-conscious Certified B Corporation that it is, took notice of Govera's work. After hearing her speak one day, the company schemed a project -- a coffee blend that would contribute a portion of proceeds ($2 a bag) to Chido's projects. This coming Sunday, the company is hosting Govera at its Proof Lab location in Mill Valley, where she will speak more about the work in sustainable pulp-to-protein solutions, and the wonders of mycelium.
The nature of coffee -- especially for those companies that nurture direct trade relationships -- is necessarily attached to the problems of the undeveloped world, and it's common to see the newer wave of roasters getting a hand in projects like this. What's not quite so common, though, is to hear about what impact looks like from the other side. To hear Chido Govera speak, come to Equator Mill Valley Proof Lab and Surf Shop café this coming Sunday, Nov. 3, at 11:30 a.m.