National and International Coffee day

We talked with CBC On The Island host Gregor Craigie, Sam Jones (2% Jazz) and Carsen Oglend of Drumroaster Coffee on the subject of National and International Coffee day. Click on the above link for the audio or download the file below.

International Coffee Day Interview

For most of us, coffee is a very personal experience, integral to the rhythm of our workday.

Caffeine, the active ingredient in every cup, awakens us to the possibilities of the day and the ritual of coffee preparation brings a sense of order to our often chaotic existence.

This is the essence of National Coffee Day – an almost hallmark celebration of our love affair with the steaming mug.

Whether taken black, with cream and sugar, a double-double or a single
ounce of espresso, coffee is our anchor.

I love my coffee. You love your coffee. Take it away and what’s left?

Thousands of miles away, coffee farmers tend the Earth and watch the sky for hints as to what the growing season might bring.

Second only to fossil fuels, the coffee bean is the most traded natural commodity on the Planet.

Millions of families, in over 50 countries, toil on plantations large and small, mindful of the seemingly endless vagaries that effect their well being and success.

At best, farmers and their families earn 5 to 7% of the retail value of coffee – often as little as 2% in countries like Brazil, hosts of the highest output of our beloved bean.

And while we enjoy our first cup as our children trundle off to school, life in developing nations dependent on this powerful export,
often means pulling children from school to assist in much of the demanding work of harvest.

This is my essence of “International Coffee Day…” It is the respectful and mindful exercise of being cognizant of the effort and sacrifice that families make to get us our beloved coffee – and what we, the consumers, can do to improve the quality of life of coffee growers and their families.

Whether you decide to support direct trade, FairTrade Canada , organic coffees or Cup of Excellence programs (where the farm, family and communities more directly benefit from the fruits of their labour…), there are many things that we the coffee drinkers can do to advance the quality of life in the coffee industry.

It is a common refrain in North America where many coffee drinkers insist, “How can I possibly make a difference to a family or community half a World away?”

Well you can. Cup of Excellence programs, for instance, support direct trade where farms and co-ops sell directly to cafes and roasters, bypassing the seemingly endless sequence of middle people that take their cut. The extra money that goes to co-ops such as these builds houses, schools and even community health centres. These luxuries that we take for granted in Canada, are the difference between happiness and misery in coffee growing nations and you can make a difference.

But How?

  • Buy sensibly – Do your homework
  • Prepare to pay a fair price for your cup
  • Support local – Canadian cities have lots of locally roasted coffees!
  • Avoid store bought Mega Brands – you know the ones – don’t make me spell it out!

    Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and coffee drinker, searching coast to coast to coast for that perfect cup of coffee – writing on the subject since 1995.