Paying Less

After reading yesterday’s SMH article, I was surprised to find out that a smaller coffee cup worth the same price a regular size has caused some ruckus on the coffee scene. Some call this a rip-off, but who is getting ripped off? Where is the issue if you buy the same amount of coffee 30ml with a bit of less milk? It’s still worth the same price in any cup size. 

It’s not just a small touch on the rise of coffee that’s the problem, but more importantly the price has apparently not changed that significantly. SMH, reports that

“at 114 US cents a pound, coffee isn’t far off its 40-year average of 123.3 cents. According to Trading Economics, coffee peaked at 339.9 cents in 1977.”

Not failing to add,– (Just as well Australia didn’t have its current barista culture then or the nation would have been bankrupt.)”

 So, the coffee price hasn’t dramatically changed. Yet there are people that claim that the coffee is expensive. On the student life it certainly is, especially if you go for the select niche specialist markets. But lets be honest, unless you are seeking kopi lewak coffee, the reality is that this won’t happen. Your are more likely to head to you local, reliable coffee shop that may even give you a discount for being a loyal customer. But how do you know whether the coffee is ethical? Given that Nestle, a large cooperation has an ethical label (that did create some controversy) should we assume that all coffee is ethical? 

 In this day and age, raising prices is just one way of making the coffee trade more sustainable. So do not object, make a difference in people’s lives instead. You know how hard life is, so why buy a cheap coffee that is produced cheaply. The victims are the farmers who may be paid less, or not paid at all. Their families and communities are also caught between. So don’t complain that it’s a rip-off, make it more ethical and sustainable instead.

Also let’s not forget the local coffee shop that needs to buy the coffee. If you stop going to them in replacement for cheaper coffee, they lose business. And who cares? It’s not you nor I, but the people that impact their lives too, the chain is longer than you think; so embrace and don’t complain.

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Know Your Coffee

My day begins with a good cup of coffee. Just minutes after waking up, I stomp into the kitchen where I pause for a second, turn around to where the coffee corner is and cherish that one, short moment of (what I term) the pre-coffee experience. This is when I feel, like I can taste the coffee before I have even started preparing it. It is the moment where one’s imagination creates the magical cup of coffee that is needed to begin the day. I am sure that, professional coffee roasters, and growers will identify with this feeling most. They are the ones that search for that perfect bean using their imagination to create the coffee we buy and taste.

Without the growers, there are no roasters, without the roasters there are is no coffee. Simply by knowing where the bean originates from as well as understanding the coffee production line through to the final taste, that short and sweet coffee moment experience in the home, will mean more than just keeping awake. Through these blogs, I can only attempt to raise awareness of the coffee production line, bringing you closer to the growers and workers in developing nations that live a tougher life.

The Tough Life

My desire to seek out the origins of the bean, comes from my background where coffee was always around us. I grew up in a house where coffee was more than a drink. My grandmother arriving from the Mediterranean seas brought across with her the secrets of fortune telling through the cup. There were times when I was sitting around the kitchen table usually after a bigger than life dinner, listening attentively to my  grandmother’s coffee cup fortune telling that she would revealed to her friends. It was a show that was made only possible through Greek Coffee. It was not just my grandmother who knew all that one could know about coffee, it was also my grandfather who still, to this day dictates how I should be making a frappe. This legacy goes on, with my father attaining a small cafe business, and my mother who can’t live without her home coffee machine. Evidently, my sister and I have both lived in the rich world of coffee.

It was not until, I had read an article in my father’s Beanscene magazine, that I thought I would begin this campaign in search for ethical standards, and generally raising awareness of the FairTrade Coffee Label. The article that I had read, was called, ‘Searching For the X-Factor’ and traces the experience of a coffee roaster, in Victoria. The interview with Nathan Johnson from Cartel Coffee, was a pleasure to read. He describes his travels to developing countries to find the best seed, trading directly with the farmers. He briefly explains that when the trade is fair, it impacts the final product positively. Then there was another story, that John Bowes describes in the preface of the book, ‘The Fair Trade Revolution,’ sharing the experience of giving a piece of chocolate to one of the workers in Ghana, who had never tasted the final product. These stories and many more are the reason that ethical coffee practices should be embraced. In all the stories that are shared through the media, there is one thing in common. As the FairTrade website states, most of the coffee consumed in Western nations derives in developing countries where the “cultivation of coffee accounts for the majority of foreign exchange earning of up to, 80 percent”. Through simple business practices and knowing where your coffee comes from, consumers can impact on creating better working conditions in developing nations.

References,

BeanScene, ‘Searching for the X-Factor,’ August 2013, http://www.beanscenemag.com.au/articles/view/cartel-coffee-roasters-search-for-the-x-factor

Bowes J (eds), ‘The FairTrade Revolution’, Pluto Press, London, 2011, http://www.amazon.com/Fair-Trade-Revolution-John-Bowes/dp/0745330789

FairTrade, Coffee, http://www.fairtrade.net/coffee.html