I was fortunate enough to spend last week enjoying the sun, beaches, beer and food in Cuba. I also got to enjoy lots of reading time. I recently picked up a book, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Has Changed Our World. (You can buy it by clicking the link). I read all 389 pages over a span of 3 days - I was hooked.
Just like Forest Gump seemed to appear in really significant historical events unknowingly, coffee was present in almost every major human atrocity ever committed, yet it sat in the background!
Coffee has been used for exploitation of the poor for centuries. It was even banned in some Arab states because of its effects on stimulating the human mind. Those in power saw coffee as a danger in the sense that people would meet in coffee houses to discuss politics and life. Those in power feared that those places could be breeding grounds for revolutionaries.
Coffee was used to enrich dictators from Africa to South America. It was used to finance two genocides in Rwanda, and a dictatorship with bizarre policies in El Salvador.(He thought he was witch and had direct telepathic connection to the US President). Event after event, from slavery to the rights of women, coffee was used to control and finance evil. It was restricted for the military's use in World War 1 & 2. Even during the industrialization age, coffee was involved in stock market crashes, depressions and aggressive corporate take overs. It seems our thirst for coffee is a bitter-sweet adventure.
The book reaffirmed that my quest for buying, roasting and delivering ethical coffee is an important one. It is extremely important that O-JOE supports people in the countries that produce quality natural coffee, but it's also imperative that O-JOE helps people right here in our community. To this day, coffee is used to exploit humans. We can make choices that help those who grow coffee as a means of living - so that they can afford the necessities of life and even have some left to "indulge" in some pleasures of life. Our choices as consumers DO impact the world in which we live, whether you like it or not - whether you want to know about the atrocities or not. At O-JOE we CHOOSE to make ethical decisions wherever we can, and an example of one of them is the Café Femenino Foundation and the Strathroy Women's Resource Centre.
I hope that you too, share the O-JOE values and make purchasing decisions based on those values - the future of the world depends on it!