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Holidays: Motherhood in Coffee

Recently I traveled with Paul, Marcus, and Mica up to Seattle for the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) trade show. I was prepared to attend a few lectures, bring home plenty of swag from vendors, and check out new gadgets our coffee-loving friends might like in our Tasting Room. What I was NOT prepared for was my entire perspective on the coffee industry changing at the core.

I’m mom to two small boys. I think about what’s for dinner, when I can fit in grocery shopping, where my oldest will go to preschool when he’s potty-trained, and how they can be kind to each other and themselves. Basically, I think a lot about how my husband and I can provide for them and help them succeed in the world.

As a coffee professional I hadn’t thought about other mothers and their children, but the vulnerability of a coffee picker from Nicaragua named Marlena changed my perspective forever. In a room of over 150 coffee professionals she shared her story.

photo 4Marlena was ten years old when she began working on a coffee farm. The farm was badly organized and there were many children picking coffee cherries from the trees. Since the farmers did not treat the workers well or pay them fairly, there was high turnover, resulting in much of the coffee cherries falling to the ground and rotting.

Now, years later, as a mother of four, she still works on this farm. Conditions have improved–children no longer work in the fields–but she is not the only mother who hears her children say, “When will we eat again, mama? When can I go to school?” She began to tear up as she shared her fears, and I began to cry with her.

On this trip to the United States, she was treated with respect and given plenty of food. But she still worries about her neighbors back on the farm: “What did they eat today? Did they start work at three A.M. again to fit in a few more hours of work and give their children food? Did they get to see their children at all, other than asleep?” I felt my heart opening as I heard her speak, and her final point resonated deeply with me: “The savage is not one who lives in the wild. The savage is the one who destroys it.”

To apply all this to the here-and-now, as baristas we carry the weight of presenting the combined efforts and reputations of the farmers, coffee pickers, coffee buyers, and roasters. If we don’t take that responsibility to heart, we are part of the problem.

Coffee will never be just coffee for me or anyone working at Caravan. Each cup of coffee I prepare for you has a family’s provision behind it. It has a story. Its tiny impact will ripple through history.

For myself, our team, and for every other person who touches this coffee, I want to thank you for choosing to partner with us as we take steps to impact this world of coffee together.

The post Holidays: Motherhood in Coffee appeared first on Caravan Coffee.


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