A conversation featuring Brian Wells owner of Tougo Coffee Co.
“Tougo Coffee Co. works with several top coffee roasters dedicated to supporting the true artisanship of coffee roasting. Ethical farming practices, as well as fair pricing and treatment of the farmers, the land, and communities at source origin.”
This week FFC decided to check out a cafe in the Seattle area to hear an employer’s point of view with regards to gender equality. Brian Wells, an entrepreneur and photographer who speaks with such eloquence, allowed us to come in and ask a few questions. This sweet soul also prepared a divine latte with oat milk while we sat down and had a little chat!
Here’s what Brian had to say:
What’s your definition of gender equality?
We should be defined as genderless - defining as male or female keeps people oppressed and separated. Everyone deserves the same social power and social equity.
Do you think coffee shops around here have a good proportion of men - women / POC / LGBTQ community in the work environment?
No. They are grossly disproportionate. I’ve talked about this on a number of occasions - all coffee is created from people of color: Africans, Latinos, Cubanos, Indonesians. Who profits from this the most? People on the farm are not being equally compensated for the work they do. As an employer, I want to hire POC / LGBTQ, because they are grossly underrepresented in this space. I might be wrong on this… there are around 5-6 cafes here - probably - with a very very very low number of LGBTQ / POC.
How are you or this coffee shop helping to empower women? Likewise, POC / LGBTQ?
By creating the safe space and making it known that you can be employed in this company regardless of your circumstances. That you can be employed in this company regardless of your gender. Genderless or gender fluid, you’re not gonna be ostracized or denied employment because of that.
The UN reported that, “Globally, women are just 13 percent of agricultural land holders.” What is your response to this and how do you think improvement can be found?
I think everybody that wants to be a land owner should be able to become one, especially if it is for agriculture. For creating sustainability for their communities. Especially, if they’re not using pesticides or GMOs to make food. Women should be much more involved in agricultural land. Why? When we go back to having men and women, women have always been the backbone of their society and culture. A man can’t do anything without a women, because it doesn’t have that punch. My mom and sister have been my spiritual support - it’s a gender fluid thing - I’m in touch with my feminine side. In addition, I believe women should have as much right to agricultural land as any man and to be excluded from that, that oppression, really goes against humanity.
We then ended the conversation with a few quick questions:
Describe coffee in one word: Life-changing
Favorite drink to prepare? Blood orange mocha
Why is ethical farming necessary? For health, for sustainable families, for environmental balance and sustainability.
What inspires you? Life itself. My son. Light. Aromatics. Fragrances.
Last drink you had? Holy detox tea
How did Tougo Coffee Co. start? It’s a West African name, my son’s name. It started with a deep desire to build a community to create a safe space for every walk of life and create a safe space for everyone.
What was the last photo you took? An editorial portrait