2013 IWCA Annual Luncheon at NCA Convention with Grace Hightower De Niro
March 22, 2013 - San Francisco

On March 22, 2013, the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) hosted their annual fundraising luncheon that took place at the 102nd Annual National Coffee Association convention in San Francisco. This year, men and women from throughout the industry attended to see guest speaker Grace Hightower De Niro and hear how she embarked on her journey into coffee. After NCA President Robert Nelson and IWCA President Grace Mena kicked off the luncheon, Grace Hightower De Niro took the stage for an intimate event. 

Grace revealed that her interest in Rwanda was first peaked after watching the movie Hotel Rwanda. Later she heard the country’s president giving a speech encouraging unification. She remembers him pleading, “We want trade, not aid.” Once she visited the country, “it was the people that dominated my impression,” says Grace. “Seeing the women in the farms was a reflection of my past and my childhood.”

 “The people of Rwanda take pride in the products they produce,” Grace continues. “The women had such a sense of sincerity, the kids were full of life, and the men supported and valued the women who made it all possible.” She launched her Coffee of Grace line in 2011, after teaming up with Tom and Patty Mitchell of Strategic Coffee Concepts, which is now distributed in Whole Foods throughout the East Coast. “I set out on this venture with four major goals: to bring awareness, to produce a high quality product, to work directly with the farmers to ensure they were being paid a premium, and to support women being brought into the business side of the coffee sector- not just helping in the farms.” Attendees of the luncheon also got to sample some of Grace’s coffees, with notes of floral, coco and citrus, with a hint of sweetness and a soft mouth feel. 

With the success of fund-raising events such as the Annual Luncheon, the IWCA continues to empower the women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and strives to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.

More on Coffee of Grace >


III International Convention of the International Women in Coffee Alliance
February 2013 - Guatemala

The III International Convention of the International Women in Coffee Alliance (IWCA) was held in Guatemala City from February 7 - 9, 2013. The theme of the convention was Coffee and Trade. In addition to presenting a wide range of interesting lectures by coffee business owners as well as coffee related topics, participants were offered an opportunity to exchange ideas directly with potential buyers.

The event was held in the ANACAFE building (Guatemalan National Coffee Association) with more than 262 participants. The participants came from around the world and represented producers, exporters, buyers, experts, and finance professionals. The keynote presentation was given by Ms. Patricia Francis, Executive Director of the International Trade Center of the United Nations who developed the theme “Challenges to achieve integrated sustainability in the world today.”