For conscious consumers, buying local products is a way to shorten the distance between us and what we eat or drink — and maybe even learn more about how our food was produced by talking to the people who made it. But what about something like coffee, which doesn’t grow anywhere near those of us living in the continental United States? Do you know where your coffee comes from? And if you do know what country it’s from — maybe from the bag or canister — do you know how it was grown? Or who grew it? Or how it transforms from a berry on a branch to the brown roasted “beans” you grind for your cup of Joe?
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“At every step, this system is built to treat the product that you're selling like it has absolutely no cost, right? Like it is the cheapest thing ever. And so everybody is pushing you to discount to the max. And there's this real push to race to the bottom. And then you're like, ‘Yeah, but we actually have a product that costs something, that comes from the earth and is precious to so many people.’”
Dakota is the director of coffee and green buyer for Onyx Coffee Lab, a coffee company based in northwest Arkansas.
Bartholomew, along with his wife Renata Henderson, cofounded Cxffeeblack — a Memphis-based coffee company — that aims to reinstate the origin, purpose and integrity of cxffee through the knowledge of its Black history and being a part of its Black future.
Anna is the director of communications at the Worker Driven Social Responsibility Network. She was previously the campaign manager at Fair World Project and has about a dozen years experience in the coffee industry, having done everything from buying to roasting to distribution to retail.
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Top photo by bonga1965/Adobe Stock.