I owe a LOT to coffee.
I bet you may be thinking the same thing.
It gets me up in the morning. It helps me focus. I use it to take a break. I use it for ritual. It even nurtures my relationships; like when I share a cup with my partner, make a cup for a family member, meet up for a cup with my friends or a first date, or when I buy a cup for a colleague or a stranger.
But the thing I owe most to coffee, is that it made me a better person.
And it’s all because of a simple, humble and powerful question I asked myself some years ago:
Where does coffee come from?
Yes, that very simple question, propelled me into an unexpected journey of self improvement.
It is my love for coffee that instigated that question. And my love for coffee (and most other things) has grown exponentially since then.
The journey revealed so much beauty.
But also some ugliness.
The beautiful parts are many. Like how coffee can be so much more than a caffeine delivery system - that it can instead be a great gustatory adventure! It’s just mind-blowing how coffee grown in different places and processed in different ways can taste so different. It’s magic the kind of impact that roasting can have in the final cup. And how about the choreography of brewing this delightful beverage? My coffee journey was drenched in art and science and I feel like I can just keep peeling back the layers of wonderful for eternity. Especially when you consider the people of coffee. From the farmer planting their coffee trees to the barista crafting your latte - these people are FULL OF PASSION.
The ugly part though, is this. Exploitation. Coffee as we know it today was made possible due to slavery and colonialism. Yup. Big ugly truth. This is not ok. It’s also not ok that this exploitation continues today. Too many coffee producers are living in poverty because coffee as a commodity is not a sustainable model. The story of the farmers that can only sell their coffee for less than what it costs to produce is a sad and common reality. Imagine? You make a thing and you can only sell it for less then it cost you to make it? I don’t think you could find many people who would agree to start a business under these terms. It makes no sense. The producers are powerless to the dictations of the market and the massive corporations that steer things, so there isn’t very much they can do to change the dynamics of coffee trade. Once you really let that sink in, it’s not as easy to enjoy your cup of coffee.
Enter specialty coffee. A smaller niche segment of the very big global coffee market.
“Specialty coffee can consistently exist through the dedication of the people who have made it their life's work to continually make quality their highest priority. This is not the work of only one person in the lifecycle of a coffee bean; specialty can only occur when all of those involved in the coffee value chain work in harmony and maintain a keen focus on standards and excellence from start to finish.” - the Specialty Coffee Association
Specialty coffee prioritizes quality, while considering the health of the people in the value chain and of the planet’s resources. Specialty coffee is a movement. It tries to do better. For me it represents a reaction, a force against the current state of coffee. And when I discovered it, I knew right away that I wanted to be part of it. Kaito Coffee Roasters is our contribution to specialty coffee. And if you brew our beans, then it is your contribution too.
So here’s the part where coffee changes me for the better.
I started to become concerned for the health of the planet and the people in the value chain of everything I was buying with my dollars - not just my coffee beans. My food, my clothes, my furniture, my devices, my cleaning products…you get the picture.
Coffee turned me into a conscious consumer. And I think that is one of the greatest services you can do for yourself, for your fellow humans and for this planet we live on (and other planets we may inhabit one day). It’s not just a great service, it is an act of LOVE. Therefore, to me, it seems that asking questions is foundational to anyone's practice of love.
Since then I’ve been making better decisions everyday, simply by asking questions - especially the one, "Where does this come from?". Since then, I feel like my spirit is wide open to the universe.
It’s not always easy. And I’m not always perfect. But I’m better.
And as the great Maya Angelou said to the great Oprah Winfrey:
I've had a few great teachers in my life.
And coffee is one of them.
THANK YOU coffee.
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