Many friends and family have asked what they can do to help us as we adopt from Ethiopia. Other than support, I have a strange reply: Buy Fair Trade Ethiopian Coffee.
Historically and culturally coffee is incredibly important to Ethiopia. Quoted below is an excerpt from a Selamta Publication (volume 13, number 2) article that outlines the historical significance of coffee to Ethiopia:
More than 1,000 years ago, a goatherd in Ethiopia’s south-western highlands plucked a few red berries from some young green trees growing there in the forest and tasted them. He liked the flavour – and the feel-good effect that followed. Today those self-same berries, dried, roasted and ground, have become the world’s second most popular non-alcoholic beverage after tea. And, as David Beatty discovers in words and pictures, the Ethiopian province where they first blossomed – Kaffa – gave its name to coffee.
Want to learn more? Read the whole article at this link.
Coffee is also a significant export for the Ethiopian economy, with over 60% of their export product being coffee. Noting how much I pay for a cup of plain black coffee at a designer chain coffee house or even for a pound of beans at the grocery, one may assume that the coffee industry would be a decent business to get into.
Good for the corporations, bad for the farmer. To quote the documentary mentioned below, for every 3 dollar drink purchased at a chain coffee house, the farmers sees .03 cents. The farmer sees a whopping 1% of the profit. Are you convinced to buy fair trade yet?
I have only seen part of the documentary Black Gold, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, by Nick & Marc Francis when it aired on PBS and since I have made a concerted effort to buy Ethiopian beans. I am trying to locate a copy of this not-so-uplifting documentary for a couch date with myself this weekend.
Check out the trailer below from YouTube.
Since I am perched on my soapbox, one more little request: avoid Starbucks for yet another reason or two. Also, if you live near me, Peace Coffee roasts a pretty good Ethiopian bean. You can even read their fair trade agreement with Ethiopia on their website.
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