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Young women in the art of coffee-making

by Thena Posysenthong, Linking, Learning and Amplifier Officer, Voice in Laos


Noy (left) and Ming (Right) from Skillbender preparing for the Festival.
Noy (left) and Ming (Right), young women representatvies from Skillbender preparing for the Festival.


Skillbender started its initiative by building the Slurp Café back in 2016. It is a café that also provided food consultancy classes. The classes are offered to students who needed extra income and can come in as part time back kitchen crew, barista or service crew. Skillbender is a social enterprise that aims to empower young people through skills training and employment opportunities. Their Voice-supported project is focused on developing skills in areas such as coffee-making and baking, among others. Through these, Skillbender is helping to create a more inclusive and sustainable future for young people in Laos.


Coffee-making is not just a skill, it is an art that requires patience, attention to detail and creativity. By learning how to make coffee, young people can develop these skills and apply them to other areas of their lives. Coffee-making can also provide young people with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. When they see the joy on someone’s face after serving them a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, they feel a sense of pride in their work. They become proud of their uniqueness and respect the diversity of people who come in to order or become a part of the café.


Noy and Ming with some of their booth guests
Noy and Ming with some of their booth guests


On 27-29 October 2023 in Luang Prabang (LPB), Laos, two young coffee-making trainers from Skillbender, Noy (Thipphaivanh Phimmaseng) and Ming (Kwanchai Chantavongsa), were invited to participate in a very exciting event and celebration: the International Coffee Day.  The two young trainers shared their experiences and  lessons learned from participating in the event.


Noy and Ming were both excited to be part of the  event in LPB. They were thrilled to meet other coffee enthusiasts from around the world and learn about new brewing techniques and coffee varieties. They were also excited to represent Skillbender and showcase their coffee-making recipe to a wider audience.


Coffee-making demonstration via AeroPress


Noy and Ming continuing the demonstration with other guests
Noy and Ming continuing the demonstration with other guests


As young women, Noy and Ming felt proud to be a part of the coffee-making event. They felt that it was a great opportunity to showcase their skills and break down gender stereotypes in the coffee industry. They inspired many other women they met at the event by demonstrating AeroPress brewing.


Noy and Ming teaching booth guests how to order in sign language
Noy and Ming teaching booth guests how to order in sign language


The  event was inclusive in many ways. It brought together coffee professionals from all over Laos, regardless of their gender, race or nationality. The event also showcased the importance of inclusivity in the coffee industry, with many speakers discussing the need for fair trade and sustainability in coffee production. Noy and Ming felt that they were a part of this inclusive movement where they also incorporated a sign-language teaching activity, teaching the visitors how to order coffee in sign language.


The International Coffee Day 2023 event in LPB provided Skillbender participants with a valuable opportunity to showcase their skills, learn from other coffee professionals, and contribute to the inclusive and sustainable future of the coffee industry. Through initiatives like Skillbender, we can create a brighter future for young people in Laos and beyond.


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