We caught up with Eleane Mierisch who, with the rest of her family, we’ve had the pleasure of working with for over a decade—a friendship formed through mutual respect, and the belief that the world of speciality coffee is for everyone.
The fourth-generation coffee producer, Eleane Mierisch, knows the importance of allies. When it comes to support and guidance, it’s the men in her family who’ve guided her into her role today as Managing Director, whilst the relationships she’s built with womxn, including our Director of Coffee, Freda Yuan, continue to inspire her to break barriers and challenge expectations. In an often male-dominated industry, Eleane explains the advantages of being a womxn, and what it means for the future of coffee production.
Eleane has been involved in her family’s coffee business for over fifteen years. While she spent her early childhood years in her homeland of Nicaragua, political unrest saw her family leaving their farms and livelihood behind, moving to the USA. Attending school and then university in Texas, Eleane followed her father’s footsteps into healthcare, qualifying and working as a nurse practitioner in Gynaecology and female health in the States, practicing for sixteen years while members of her family returned home. In 2004, with her mother’s health deteriorating, Eleane moved back to Nicaragua, leaving medicine behind and delving into the family’s coffee business.
“My brother, Erwin, inspired me to join the family’s farming heritage, quickly becoming my teacher and mentor. My father and my brother have always been strong sources of influence and inspiration to me—they guided me in my coffee career, always with confidence and belief in my abilities. Today, my biggest inspiration is my nephew, Wingo. He’s taken the reins of the family business, and his discipline, focus, and great enthusiasm, are admirable: he represents the generational shift to continue Mierisch's legacy in the coffee industry.”
ARE THERE ANY WOMXN THAT INSPIRE YOU?
My biggest inspiration, without a doubt, is my late mother, whose legacy lives on in me forever. She led with enormous generosity, honesty, and kindness. She was a pillar at home, and a great example of a coffee working womxn at a time when gender inequality in Nicaragua was a living reality. I'm also inspired by all the womxn who constantly fight to be recognised and valued; the ones who work tirelessly for equality and progress in all aspects of life. I’m lucky to be surrounded by great leaders and unconditional friends like Freda Yuan, Synøve Nesøen, Joanna Alm, Susie Spindler, and Carolina Padilla: these are womxn that make voices heard.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU, TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH OTHER WOMXN IN THE SPECIALITY COFFEE INDUSTRY?
My biggest inspiration, without a doubt, is my late mother, whose legacy lives on in me forever. She led with enormI am fortunate to have a great friendship with Freda; we’re united by our shared passion for coffee, and I love that we can connect over something some beautifully simple. I consider her a fantastic representation of the important role that womxn play in the speciality coffee industry.
Working with womxn in coffee, to me, that we are making progress towards a more equitable and diverse industry—and that is something I'm passionate about. I believe that collaborating with colleagues in the speciality coffee industry is an incredible opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, and ideas. It's essential to have diversity and inclusion, and working with womxn brings a unique perspective that can only benefit the industry.
ARE THERE ANY MISCONCEPTIONS OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK IT MUST BE LIKE TO BE A WOMXN WORKING THE COFFEE INDUSTRY?
There are definitely misconceptions about what it's like to be a womxn working in the coffee industry—people who believe that womxn can only brew and serve coffee, do administrative work, or be a coffee producer‘s wife. Yet womxn are involved in all aspects of the coffee supply chain, from seed to cup. I personally know womxn with high professional and leadership skills who are setting incredibly high standards for any gender in the coffee industry.
ARE THERE ANY ADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMXN IN THE INDUSTRY?
I think there are definitely advantages to being a womxn working in the coffee industry. As a womxn, I bring a unique perspective to the table. Womxn have a keen attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a deep sense of compassion that is valuable in any industry. Additionally, as a womxn producer and cupper, I have been able to break through some of the barriers that exist for womxn in the industry.
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT THE SPECIALITY COFFEE INDUSTRY? AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OF?
As a coffee producer and professional cupper, there are endless opportunities for exploration, experimentation, and innovation. Every year, we have the chance to improve and perfect our crops, to try new processing methods, and to develop new flavour profiles. The speciality coffee industry is constantly evolving, and that keeps me excited and motivated to keep pushing forward.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS OF WOMXN LOOKING TO WORK IN THE COFFEE INDUSTRY?
My advice is to not be afraid to take risks and pursue your passions. As a womxn in a male-dominated industry you may face some challenges, but don't let that discourage you. Use those challenges as an opportunity to prove yourself and show what you're capable of. Seek out mentors and other womxn in the industry who can provide support and guidance. Remember that your unique perspective and experiences as an individual can be an asset to the industry. Stay confident, stay curious, and keep pushing forward.
Read our producer profile guide on the Miersich family - here