Food & Drink

Meet The Adelaide Environmentalist Fighting For Coffee Sustainability

If you’re a lover of coffee, it’s likely the start to your day, the afternoon pick-me-up, the pantry staple, the daily dose…whatever you call it, it’s become a part of daily life for many of us.

The industry also affects millions of farmers around the world, who dedicate their lives to coffee plantations. Adelaide environmentalist Nicole Motteux is acutely aware of the effects of the industry on farmers, growing up on her family’s coffee farm in Zimbabwe as a youngster.

Now, she’s dedicated to spreading the word about supporting sustainability in our coffee industry. She’s set to speak at this weekend’s Double Shot Coffee Fiesta in Unley. We spoke to her ahead of her presentation to learn more…

Can you describe your job?

For over 20 years’ I have worked in overseas development in Africa, SE Asia (Vietnam and Lao P.D.R) and Pacific as a community participation and environment management specialist, delivering interventions and programs, including project management, monitoring and evaluation.

I work on a range of programs from natural disaster mitigation and preparation, Water and Sanitation, Avian Influenza, clean air, sustainable tourism, hazardous waste and water resource management, female entrepreneurial programs and value chains.

“25 million families are directly dependent on coffee and over 100 million people are indirectly involved and dependent in the coffee value chain”

Thanks to this broad spectrum of experience, I can appreciate the multiple issues facing coffee industry actors, including HIV rates to mobile phone subscriptions, access to IT and banking services as well as human development and business context.

I am also honored to support the Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) to analyze data for 22 coffee producing countries.

What is the day in the life of Nicole like?

Every day I check what is happening in the coffee world. I have extended networks in the coffee industry across Africa, Asia and UK, including researchers, farmers, producers, café owners, NGOS and coffee international organisations.

The coffee community are a great supportive team sharing learning and information. Some days I get a request from one of the countries to look at data, review a document, help with a presentation or advise on a coffee matter.

I design sustainable, resource efficient and quality coffee production programs. In this role, I developed monitoring tools, advised on gender and youth inclusive activities throughout the coffee supply chain

Sharing stories from growers, traders and cafes and taking loads of photos.

“To protect their livelihoods is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders – ‘us’. Concerted efforts by all segments of the coffee value chain is needed to achieve a sustainable industry”

What led you to be interested in the coffee industry?

I am a community participation and environment management specialist with a particular interest in coffee.  I have lived and worked in coffee, having grown up on a coffee plantation in Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. Growing up on a Zimbabwean coffee farm, my passion for this crop has been lifelong. My Father (Hugues Motteux) embraced practices in the 1980s to meet International demand for consistency and dependable quality. He also supported small scale coffee growers offering practical demonstrations of good agricultural practices to increase their output and quality of coffee.

Most of the coffee is grown by small scale coffee producers in some of the world’s poorest people in countries struggling with conflict, violence and fragility combined with droughts or floods. These households engage in rural farming and subsist on income at or below the international poverty line of US$1.90 per person per day.

I am interested to narrow the gaps in gender equality, support coffee growers to take up Good Agricultural Practices to achieve consistent coffee quality and productivity, as well as encourage countries to take up good governance and engage with the private sector.

Where the coffee industry is committed to improving the lives of coffee communities, I want to offer exciting opportunities for livelihood development in coffee producing countries that can have a major impact for coffee farmers long-term.

Nicole Motteux

What led you to be part of Double Shot Coffee Fiesta?

I believe that the promotion of sustainable, resource efficient and quality coffee production is a practical way to improve livelihoods and address rural poverty in remote areas of the world. I would like to contribute to the changing and exciting new wave of coffee… an event like Coffee Fiesta brings coffee lovers and industry actors together. I think it is important that we all put ourselves forward to make a better world.

What is your role with Coffee Fiesta?

I am presenting the coffee value chain, the actors’ involved and key issues.


Why are you passionate about sustainability in the coffee industry?

I have sat in many meetings with coffee producers in remote villages who are trying to do their best –  send their children to school, care for their aging parents, as well as provide for their family. I value how hard they work, the risks they take, the conditions they face and their overwhelming desire to do the right thing – produce good quality coffee that gives them choices.

I also sit in meetings with traders who want to support poor farmers but need the coffee quality to meet the standards. For this reason, I am passionate to support opportunities for improved coffee. This starts with good agricultural practices to increase average yield and quality. Increased yields and quality increase returns to producers and so motivate them to improve quality – a win for coffee consumers, the environment, producers, traders and roasters.

Why should we be talking about this more? 

Coffee is one of the most important agricultural commodities.  Coffee is grown in over 70 countries in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  The economics of many coffee growing countries depends heavily on the earnings from this crop. 25 million families are directly dependent on coffee and over 100 million people are indirectly involved and dependent in the coffee value chain.  A huge majority of farmers are smallholders and coffee is their main source of income. For example in Rwanda coffee continues to generate important export revenue which can benefit farmers, their families and the communities.

Many small scale coffee producers, for example in Laos experience thin months’ the period of the year when producers do not know if they will have enough money to feed their families. To protect their livelihoods is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders – ‘us’. Concerted efforts by all segments of the coffee value chain is needed to achieve a sustainable industry.

Double Shot Coffee Fiesta is on this Sunday 4 November, 10am to 4pm, Soldier’s Memorial Gardens, Unley. 

Smiley Fritz

Hot Fritz

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