Friday, May 08, 2009

Have You Ever Walked Down the Coffee Isle?

For those that know me pretty well, or have been around me any amount of time, know that I am a coffee snob. I had to do some grocery shopping tonight and happened to walk down the coffee isle. I actually very rarely walk down the coffee isle in stores because I buy my coffee from coffee shops or coffee roasters. While I was strolling down the coffee isle I noticed this:

**Note: This picture is not what I actually saw, but it is close. I actually took a picture with my camera phone of the coffee I saw, but I could not get it downloaded off my phone!

Anyway, I just started laughing out-loud when I saw this. I am sure the guy at the other end of the isle wondered why I was laughing when I had no one else with me. Although if he would have seen me laughing in the card isle all by myself he would not have given it a second thought!

Now some of you might be wondering why I started laughing. And for those of you wondering this give yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself you need a coffee education! It's ok that you don't know why we are laughing, because I am going to give you a little coffee lesson!

Coffee is grown in tropical locations (so not Kansas!). Coffee begins as a coffee berry and picked when it is ripe. Once it is dried the beans are roasted to make what we know as roasted coffee beans. Many of the coffee choices in the grocery/retail stores are not "fair trade" coffee. The following was taken from this website. It summarizes what I wanted to say much better than I could have, so...

"The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.

Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship."

Most of the coffee you find at grocery/retail stores are beans that were picked, roasted, and ground a long time ago. Buying coffee from coffee shops or roasters guarantees you are getting the freshest coffee you can get and many times guarantees you are getting "fair trade" coffee. The difference in taste between cheap coffee and the more expensive fresh ground coffee is amazing, in my opinion! Which is exactly the reason I laughed. My thought when I saw the huge container of cheap coffee was "people who can drink that must not have taste buds". When in reality they probably have not sat down to a wonderfully roasted, ground, and brewed cup of coffee!

So I challenge all you coffee drinkers out there to see if you are drinking "fair traded" coffee. If you do not see the "fair trade" logo, just ask the owner of the coffee shop or store. Check out this website if you are interested in learning about coffee farmers in Rwanda and what a group is doing to help them.

If you have not had a wonderful cup of coffee lately, stop by my house and I will be glad to fix you one. I even offer iced coffee if you prefer!

Enjoy your weekend and think of this the next time you stroll down the coffee isle!

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