Coffee Thoughts

mugThis is my favorite mug.

I don’t know why it matters – I mean, seriously, a favorite mug? Maybe if it were particularly efficient, keeping liquids exceptionally hot, I’d have a justifiable reason for loving it so much. But it isn’t any better than the next mug. I just…love it.

I love the uneven bars of color at the top, and I love the image of wheat and flowers on the side. It’s vintagey and cute – the paint even has that old, crackled look.

I think we got it at Goodwill a few years ago. I’m not exactly sure. All I do know is that it’s my favorite, and any time we have coffee (which is every morning, of course), I always hope it’s clean so that I can use it.

This brings me to my next point. Coffee. It’s one of those things that’s hard to find grown within the U.S. Most places only sell imported coffee – and it makes sense, really. It’s a lot easier to grow in places like South America. The only problem is, that means it’s not local (of course), and it also puts me at risk for supporting unfair labor practices. That’s definitely something I’m against.

Our country consumes the most coffee in the world (one fifth, to be exact). We ignorantly spend $3.50 for a latte, sometimes daily, without thinking twice about where it came from and if it was fairly paid for. We goofily claim that we just can’t give up our “addiction,” and usually, other people end up paying dearly for our “need” for coffee. The thing is, we don’t ever have to see those people or experience their hardships firsthand, which means we can go on living our lives, happily sipping mochas and frappucinos while socializing with friends or prepping for our days.

Ryan and I realized that this just isn’t how it should be. We really do love coffee (and for me, the smell and taste of coffee are so strongly linked to my early memories of Ryan that I’d be downright sad to give it up!) and although we realize we don’t have to have it, we felt the strong conviction to make sure our coffee was being fairly traded because we’d like to keep drinking it!

I believe that we are responsible for all of our purchases. Even though fair trade, organic coffee is more expensive than your average, conventional Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Tim Horton’s, or Peet’s Coffee, how can we possibly rationalize the support of unfair labor practices? I am convinced that, if we cannot bring ourselves to spend the extra few dollars to support fair trade, then we have no business drinking that coffee in the first place.

Personally, I’ve found some great tasting organic, fair trade coffee for a relatively low price. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, that’s a perfect place to find it. Whole Foods offers slightly more expensive, yet equally as tasty fair trade coffee, and so do many of the chain coffee shops nowadays (and of course, many of the privately owned coffee shops do, too).

Now, I realize that this opens a door to many other discussions, such as, “If I’m a stickler about fair trade coffee, shouldn’t I be a stickler about fair trade everything?” In a word, the answer is, of course, “Yes.” The problem is that it’s not always as simple. I wholeheartedly support and attempt to participate in the practice of purchasing as many fair trade products as possible. Researching the origins of our clothing, home goods, body products, etc is a very good idea, and usually turns up some pretty revealing results. It’s also extremely helpful to learn to make things at home (where applicable). Right now, though, we’re talking about coffee. We’ll talk more about fair trade in general another time. 🙂

I’d like to encourage you to consider your “need” for coffee (and by “need,” I mean you really, really like to have it ;)) and decide whether or not it’s truly necessary to have it in your life. If you find that you are extremely attached to your daily cup of coffee, consider leaving it behind or making the transition to fair trade coffee only. Think of it like this: we’re called to love and serve others. Supporting foreign workers by ensuring they’re fairly treated and paid for their hard work is a huge example of preferring others over yourself.

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1 Comment

Filed under photographs, tea-timing

One response to “Coffee Thoughts

  1. My lovely sister said one time “Fair trade coffee is like the easiest fair trade thing to buy. If you’re not going to go through the trouble to buy fair trade coffee, then you won’t go through the trouble to buy fair trade anything.”

    Which I think is a really good point. : )

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