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Women and Cooperatives

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Women and Cooperatives

If I had £1 for every time someone said to me “I can remember my Nans/mothers divi number!” I would be a quite bit richer! However, when that person has been asked “Why do you think it was such an important part of their lives that you had to remember it?”, no-one has been able to give an answer. 

The importance of co-operatives to the lives of women has somehow been lost. Most things historical are written by men! Over time, women’s rights have improved, and whilst the battle for equality goes on, many other issues have been addressed.

As far as I am aware, no-one has written anything from the perspective of the wives of the Rochdale Pioneers, or The Fenwick Weavers before that. In the 18th Century, violence against the mills led to the development of a specialist insurance – The Fenwick Weavers signed their documentation in a church so if they were caught, they could seek sanctuary. Given the draconian measures of those times, the “lessons” meted out to men daring to form associations and unions – the deportations of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the floggings and imprisonments, the impact of Peterloo. All these must have preyed on the minds of the Rochdale Pioneers wives. Yet we know little of them, what their lives were like, especially as the men scraped together the £1 each to start the society-changing co-operative. 

It poses the question: ‘Would the Pioneers have been able to achieve what they did had their wives not been supportive?’. With energy suppliers refusing to provide for the shop, as well as the acrimony of other shop keepers, there must have been a high level of fear and anxiety within households. The Co-operative ideal was challenging societal norms; challenging the nouveau riche and the elite. It was a movement to change the world, so you can only imagine the repercussions on family life. Working out the dividend pay-outs to members on Christmas Day was possibly the least of their worries.

Eliza Brierley was the first woman to pay her £1 in full in 1846. Virtually nothing is known about her, apart from the fact she was a spinster, a weaver and where she lived. Her payment challenged the Principle of Equality and Equity. A decision had to be made whether the distribution for the dividend went to Eliza Brierley, the member, or to her husband. Of course, this was a time when women were chattels, and not allowed money of their own. They were owned by men, and all the women’s possessions became the husbands on marriage. 

Payment of the dividend to a woman was a revolutionary development in the cooperative movement, and most co-operatives protected the woman’s right to that payment. Anecdotally, I have heard of women getting the £1 membership as a wedding present – ensuring that the bride did have some money of her own. Co-operatives were ahead of their time when recognising the equality of women.

Invariably, women would be a part of the circular economy within the co-operative stores. They did the family shopping, so remembering the co-operative number ensured that their spend was allotted and used to calculate their dividend. Once this was paid out, this would go back into the co-operative in the form of purchases. 

The breadth of goods provided by the co-operative retail movement was huge. Shoes, clothing, furniture – the big co-operative department stores full of co-operative goods were so much more than just a shop. Stanley Matthews Co-operative football boots used to be on display in the Peoples History Museum in Manchester – “There was a new boot designed for him by the Co-op, much lighter, without the big toe-cap. He thought it made him quicker, but he would have to change them every few weeks because they were so easily damaged.”

Nowadays, of course, women are financially independent, while the implementation of computers and the 16-digit numbers have meant that Divi number no longer needs to be remembered. However, the importance of co-operatives to the lives of women remains just as important as it was in 1846, when Eliza Brierley challenged the status quo to live up to the Principle of Equality and Equity. To paraphrase Hilda Smith, not only did women need co-operatives – but co-operatives needed women. 

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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La Cimbali Donation to Italian Health Service

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La Cimbali Donation to Italian Health Service

At Revolver, we’re incredibly proud of the relationships that we have built over the last 10 years. As a company who recognises the importance of high ethical standards and positive environmental practices, it is a pleasure to work alongside organisations who share similar values.  

In many ways, the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in people, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the story of how our Italian friends at La Cimbali have contributed to the fight against the virus.  

La Cimbali is an Italian manufacturer of professional espresso and cappuccino equipment, and a company who we’ve been fortunate to work alongside in recent times as we develop our café and bean-to-cup solutions offering. With their headquarters in Milan, many of the Cimbali team have seen the brunt of the coronavirus epicentre, which until recently was focused in Italy.  

This week, Cimbali Group donated 10 lung ventilators to the Italian National Health Service facility, a total value of around €200,000. The following quote is taken from Maurizo Cimbali, as shared by the Cimbali website: 

“Our Country is going through a dramatic time, without a doubt nothing like this has ever been experienced in the past few decades. – Declared Maurizio Cimbali, President of the Group. – As an Italian company, strongly rooted in Lombardy, we feel compelled by a need, a duty and a moral commitment to support the healthcare and hospital system which is coping remarkably in the face of this emergency, with a donation of 200 thousand euros for the purchase of lung respirators for intensive care”. 

We’d like to extend our warmest regards to everyone at Cimbali during this period, both in Italy and further afield. This is a very trying time, so it’s fantastic to see acts of generosity in our industry going a long way to make a tangible difference.  

You can read more about our work with La Cimbali here

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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Coffee At Home Part 1: Coffee Bags

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Coffee At Home Part 1: Coffee Bags

It’s no secret that coffee is a vital part of the working day for a lot of people. With recent social distancing measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most of us are working from the comfort of our own homes. While for many people this is a welcome change from office life, there is one thing missing. Good quality coffee.  

Unfortunately, many of our friends in the café and hospitality industry have had to temporarily close their doors to do their part in preventing the spread of coronavirus. We’re no longer able to pop into a coffee shop and pick up a drink, but that’s no reason to have to settle for an instant coffee while working from home.  

Coffee Bags remain relatively unknown to the majority of people outside the industry, but the concept is simple. Imagine a teabag, but with fresh coffee inside. All you need to do is brew, stir, squeeze and serve! It’s an incredibly simple solution for those of us who don’t have all the gear at home to make a great tasting, fresh coffee.  

Famous Blue Mountain 

This coffee is our premium blend of four single origin coffees, sourced from cooperatives working hard to make a difference in their communities. A premium blend of greens, blended together by our roasters to bring you the world in a cup.  

Cuba  

Frequent rain enriches the mountain soil’s mica and quartz crystal deposits, giving this excellent coffee its unique quality. At harvest, the ripest cherries are handpicked and brought to the Cimanayagua mill for wet processing. Naturally sun-dried, this arabica coffee has a highly intense aroma with an elegant and delicate sweetness. Since the 1950s, coffee production in Cuba has fallen by more than 80%, but now Cuba is rebuilding its economy through cooperatives. We bring together producers and customers – our members produce and drink our coffee.  

 

There are plenty of ways to brew fantastic coffee at home, but coffee bags are one of my favourites. As this blog and video series will demonstrate, there are all sorts of fancy home brewing techniques available, but nothing is easier than a coffee bag. In these, let’s be honest, pretty difficult times, it’s nice to be able to still access café quality coffee from the comfort of your own home – whether you’re working there or not!  

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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Working From Home: Day 1

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Working From Home: Day 1

Today is the first day our coffee team has started working from home. Following government advice following the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve set up a desk in my lounge rather than heading up the road to the Revolver offices.  

It’s quite a strange feeling – almost like being back at university, but during normal working hours. The week started like any other week – getting up at a normal time, getting dressed and ready just like a typical day.  

Personally, I think that treating everything as if it was a normal working day is critical to making sure you remain productive while you work from your lounge. By that, I mean dressing properly, taking breaks as you would in the office, and checking in regularly with the rest of the team. For us, we’ve made use of Microsoft Teams – a shared platform which enables all of us to collaborate on documents, share our screens, and hold video conference calls. 

So, just like a normal working week, we held a meeting this morning to discuss our plans for the day. As you can imagine, the café and hospitality industry has been hit quite hard by the social distancing measures, so we’ve had to change our work accordingly. Without giving too much away, we’re focusing now on product development, engaging more with our members and customers over the coming weeks, and making our office and warehouse more efficient.  

I think regularly keeping in touch with colleagues is essential during this period of self-isolation. At Revolver, we all work quite closely on a day to day business and have the fortune of cooperating in a small team who understand every aspect of the business, so it is important that we don’t shut down our lines of communication.  

Something I have found really important is holding yourself to account. With nobody else to do it for you, you have to take it upon yourself to make sure your work isn’t impacted by distractions at home, whether it’s getting slightly too comfortable working on the sofa, or your dog pulling you away to play fetch…  

Despite the disadvantage of not having top of the range coffee available here, it is quiet. I have found that my focus has increased, and I’ve been able to complete tasks quickly that require a lot of concentration.  

Having said that, I am missing the office already. We’re lucky at Revolver to work day-today with our friends on projects we really enjoy – and there really is no substitution for the atmosphere in the office. That’s going to be the thing I really miss over the coming weeks and months.  

As we mentioned in a press release last week, we are doing our absolute best to keep things running smoothly for our members and customers. Orders are still being processed through our website, and long term projects and plans are still being worked on and developed collectively.  We are very fortunate to be able to communicate and continue to operate, even if it is remotely. 

 

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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Coronavirus Statement for Members

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Coronavirus Statement for Members

Given recent developments as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, we wanted to write a short piece to update our members as to how our industry has been impacted, and the precautions we are taking to do our part in helping the effort.

Firstly, some of our friends in the hospitality industry have borne the brunt of the outbreak, with reduced footfall in cafes and bars. Charity and awareness campaigns such as UK Coffee Week have been postponed until the autumn, and trade events like the London Coffee Festival and the Great Taste Awards have been put on hold. 

At the other end of the spectrum, retailers have seen a surge in demand through panic buying and increased customer demand, meaning they are working around the clock to make sure people have enough in order to get by as the pandemic develops. 

Here at Revolver, we’ve offered the team opportunities to work from home, drastically cutting the number of people in the offices, as well as maintaining exceptionally high levels of hygiene and disease precautions. Rest assured we will continue to be able to process orders and keep up with customer demand for our coffee, chocolate, and other products. 

This is a difficult time for a lot of people, and now, perhaps more than ever, it is important that we’re able to look out for each other and cooperate, even if it is remotely. Please continue to look out for people who have found themselves in vulnerable and difficult situations, and stay safe.

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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An Empty Netherlands – Coronavirus

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An Empty Netherlands - Coronavirus

 

Cancelled Amsterdam Coffee Festival

This weekend, a few members of our team flew out to the Netherlands to attend the Amsterdam Coffee Festival – only for it to be cancelled a few hours before we stepped on the plane. 

We still flew out to the Netherlands, and tried to salvage the trip with some European market research – travelling around Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam to scout out their coffee scenes. Despite a notably quiet country, we were still able to speak to a few locals and professionals to get a sense of what European cafe culture is like.

Fairtrade in Europe

It’s all about Fairtrade now, it’s the way we are moving’, explained a barista in one of Eindhoven’s independent roasteries. ‘Coffee is appealing to young professionals in Europe who are much more conscious about how their food and drink are produced. In the Netherlands, we’ve seen a rise in independent, small coffee brands who put ethics and environment at the forefront of their brand.’ 

The trend that the barista was describing is often referred to as a ‘coffee-like-wine’ attitude – consumers are seeking a high quality coffee that focuses on particular taste attributes, as well as transparency in the supply chain right down to farm level. 

This ‘3rd wave of coffee’ follows two earlier cycles: the first wave marked the popularisation of coffee consumption in Europe from the 1960s through to the 1990s, where a second wave saw a shift to higher quality coffees served through chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee. 

It has also been marked by ranges of speciality coffees, reflected by the increasing number of independent roasters and cafes, like the ones which populate Eindhoven’s Bergen district. Although the majority of European’s still favour cheap, mainstream coffee (instant, standard blends, robusta etc). 

The story was quite similar in Rotterdam – we stopped in at a few coffee shops and roasters to see what we could learn from them, but the only issue on everyone’s mind was how the coronavirus was going to impact their job and industry. We visited Rotterdam port, which is the first stop for a lot of our coffee being transported from South America. Just like the rest of the country, the port was like a ghost town. 

Unfortunately, the cafe and hospitality industry is going to be one of the hardest hit in the Netherlands due to the coronavirus pandemic. At 6pm on Sunday evening, just as we were checking in at Schipol to return home, an announcement from the Dutch government closed all cafes, bars and restaurants with immediate effect. We need to make sure we remain safe, and look out for each other in this difficult time

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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The Rise of Reusable

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The Rise of Reusable

483 words. 2 minute 30 second read. 

The coffee industry has seen a surge in reusable cups over the last 5 years. With conscious effort on behalf of both retailers and customers to cut the amount of waste produced, one of the most notable trends is the rise of the reusable cup. There’s more to the cup than a nicer feel and look though – when you look at the numbers, they really are remarkable…

Some retailers have completely removed single use provision. Waitrose no longer provides single use cups for their bean-to-cup machine, while last week M&S extended their trial of a ‘zero-waste’ section in a supermarket. We are lucky to be on the doorstep of the Clean Kilo Co in Birmingham who have been a pioneer of the zero waste movement.

The Numbers

Forbes reported last year that 8 trillion pieces of plastic were dumped into the world’s oceans each year, with 91% of plastic going un-recycled. A reusable cup will provide absolutely no waste per 75 uses, compared to 1,500g of waste with a disposable single use cup. As a result, for every 1 million reusable cups replacing single use, 1000 tonnes of carbon emissions would be avoided, and 300 tonnes of waste would be saved – the equivalent to the energy used by an average UK household for 75 years… 

Our Ethos

As many of our members are aware, at Revolver we pride ourselves on our environmental standards. It is important to help our customers transition away from single use cups when purchasing their coffee at bean to cup machines, like our recent installation at Southmoor. Whilst the cups we provide are compostable and biodegradable, we know there is an added sense of value that comes with the ownership of a high quality, environmentally friendly reusable vessel.  

For these reasons, both environmental and customer focused, we have expanded our range of popular reusable cups with four new offerings, beautifully decorated with William Morris prints. For our cooperative, innovation has always taken centre stage in guiding our direction. We endeavour to consistently find the best solutions for consumers, members and the environment. 

 Hannah Birch, Head of Commercials at Revolver, said ‘We’re really proud of our new range of William Morris reusable cups. It’s so important that we’re able to offer a variety of designs to our customers, and it’s an important step in helping people change their behaviour away from single use. This is just another small example of the work we’re doing to be as ethically and environmentally conscious as possible.’  

A note on style 
Our new range features William Morris prints. Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain, and held a deep set commitment and respect for the environment, so it’s only fitting that his work decorates our range. We stock Peacock, Wandle, Blackthorn, and Seaweed Marine, all available now for £10.

www.revolverworld.com/ecoffee-cups/

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.                    

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Honduras Diaries: Part 2.

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Honduras Diaries: Part 2.

Honduras Diaries: Part 2 
In Honduras Diaries: Part 1, Josh introduced us to his trip to Honduras. In Part 2, he goes into more detail about the second half of the trip, including a wetmill visit and stopping by at the Honduran Institute for Coffee. 

514 words. 4 minute read. 

November 6th, Day Four: 
Our fourth day was pretty laid back and relaxed. MasterRoast organised a trip for us to visit Cofafelol, also a co-operative like Revolver, who we purchase our coffee from. We were shown around the facilities and then given the opportunity to plant a coffee plant. It was a wrap for the day, and I headed back to catch up on some sleep. 

November 7th, Day Five:
We woke up bright and early on the fifth day. The plans were to visit the wet mill at Coffee Planet and then to a coffee refinery. When we arrived at the Wet mill, we were shown the process of how raw coffee beans are processed for de-fruiting. I saw the amount of coffee beans needed to produce a ten-kilogram bag of coffee and it really went to show how much care, effort and manpower it takes to bring that one cup of coffee to our tables. 

Next on our agenda was a trip to a coffee refinery. My first impression was the sheer scale of the location and how much manpower was needed to run the facility.  We observed how coffee is processed into beans, ready to be shipped off to be roasted.  

Our first tourist excursion of the trip came about and we visited some Mayan ruins, an amazing experience. Our tour guide explained the rich, ancient history of the civilisation, how they were presumed to live and how there’s a mystery surrounding how the Mayan civilisation died out in the region

November 8th, Day Six: 

It was our last day in Honduras and our trip was coming to an end, and we closed with the busiest day of all. Our first stop was to meet with the Honduran Institute for Coffee, a government institution who oversees the country’s coffee exports (coffee makes up 40% of Honduras’ exports). Out of a small population of eight million people, an estimated one million people are directly involved within the coffee industry through their employment. 

Later on that day we visited the family that we met on the first day of our trip, and they showed us around distribution facilities in San Pedro Sula. After tasting their coffee from different parts of the country they told us that the amount of coffee that is exported out of the country is equivalent to more than the entirety of exports of El Salvador. 

My trip to Honduras had come to an end, leaving me reminiscent of a fantastic week. The trip opened my eyes tp what coffee means. It’s not just a Monday morning pick-me-up. It’s the livelihoods of communities and families whose whole lives revolve around what me and you see as a drink in a cup. I’m thankful to everyone I met during my visit to Honduras and I hope to be back soon.

If you’d like to know more about what we do, or enquire about cooperative coffee solutions for your business or society, please email enquiry@revolver.coop

What we do is simple, but revolutionary. 

https://revolverworld.com/product/ground/honduras-fairtrade-organic-200g/

Except where stated, this site and it’s contents are © Copyright 2020 Revolver Co-operative Limited
All Rights Reserved.
 © Revolver World 2020.