Wake Up and Smell the Coffee...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

There is one thing in my life that I am happily addicted to... my one cup of fresh coffee in the morning. Only one and only in the morning.

I think I fell in love with coffee when I was in Sydney. 
Almost as passionate about their capuccinnos, flat whites (that's a latte for us Poms) and long blacks (americanos) as the Italians, the good old Aussies just love their cuppas. 

I used to get quite confused and intimidated standing in line for a coffee, practicing in my head what to say when all I really wanted was a simple cup of fresh coffee. At first I started out with a long black, but with cold milk on the side. That of course got me looks of 'you what?'... then I followed the crowd into cappuccinos, but always found them a bit insipid, never quite hitting the spot. A barista friend then introduced me to the machiato (espresso with a dash of frothed milk). But that was too small. I just wanted to jump behind the counter and make it myself...

So I did. And 'voila' the perfect coffee was born. It has no name to forget and it's just simple and tastes good. It does what it sets out to do and it makes me happy. Take a double espresso add a touch of frothed milk and thats it. How simple was that? But oh no... I either get charged for a double machiato or told 'we don't do that'.... So I gave up and started to just order a double shot cappuccino, with less milk or in a smaller cup.

I had a bit of a tif with a waitress in Plymouth one day. I asked for a cappuccino, regular size, then added an extra shot to the order. She bought me a great big mug of cappuccino with two shots of espresso. Now, the great big mug of milk defeats the whole point of the two shots because 'I like strong tasting coffee'... She couldn't quite grasp this concept and insisted it was strong as it had two shots in it. Now forgive me and replace this with gin and tonic (as I quite often like to do, though not in the morning!)... If you ask for a double gin and tonic, does it come in a pint glass? No. I rest my case.

I actually sat down to write a post about Fair Trade coffee, but a story has to start with a little introduction and if you've read this far then I must have caught your attention...

Fair Trade is close to my heart. I think everything should be fairly traded anyway and the farmer who has done all the hard toil to get that fresh aroma to my coffee cup, deserves to be paid a fair price for it. It really hit me hard a few years ago when I watched 'Black Gold' on recommendation from my Mums partner, M.

We drank gallons of Costco's Signature brand of Columbian coffee at our house and it was quite traumatic for me to not find a Fair Trade logo on the tin. M assured me that I shouldn't worry as Columbia had a pretty good working standard when it came to coffee. M doesn't bullshit and he knows a lot about the economy and world issues, so I drank my coffee in a little more peace.

The success of the Starbucks petition to honour their commitments to coffee farmers in Ethiopia was a big breakthrough in our house, not that I go there, but knowing that we helped to change such an important issue. M was born and bought up in Ethiopia, so it was very close to home.

Now I only buy Fair Trade coffee as I don't shop at Costco's and Mum keeps forgetting to buy me coffee when she goes (It's really that good) but I have since done a bit of research and have found that the Signature branded coffee at Costco is actually owned by none other than Starbucks! Not only that but it is certified Fair Trade too!

I'm not sure when this article was written, but you can't really find a more reliable source than The National Geographic, Green Guide... It's really worth a read to find out the ins and outs of fairly traded coffee.

"Responding to heightened consumer activism, a handful of corporate giants have taken meaningful steps toward a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible coffee market. As a result of pressure from grassroots non-profits including Global Exchange and Oxfam America, in 2003 Proctor and Gamble began selling Fair Trade-certified coffees through Millstone, its gourmet coffee division, but has yet to extend the certification to its more widely available Folgers brand. To be compatible with its socially responsible image, Starbucks sells its Fair Trade-certified Cafe Estima blend year-round, and their Fair Trade-certified Kirkland Signature house blend is also available at Costco stores nationwide and in Canada. However, the company has yet to make Fair Trade coffee a viable option for customers by brewing it weekly in cafes, although they do state that its stores will brew a pot of Fair Trade coffee if a customer requests it."

Yes and I remember sitting in Starbucks in Aldwich waiting for my freshly brewed Fair Trade coffee to brew... 10 minutes... 20 minutes... I wasn't in a hurry as I was waiting to go back and pick up our visas from India House, so I waited patiently. They had forgotten to put the switch on... obviously they make a lot of Fair Trade then?! I did however get a nice apology and a voucher for any drink of choice.

So M was right in the end and I don't feel at all guilty for trusting his knowledgeability. 

I found it interesting that when you Google 'coffee', wikipedia is the first hit, Starbucks the second and national geographic the third... something wrong there.

Fair Trade isn't a trend it's a right.


Jade of the Jungle said...

Fair trade is so important in certain industries, like as you say, coffee. Anything else is just taking advantage of certain countries' poor bargaining position. I don't like coffee (I know, I know, prob the only person in the world!) but I buy fairtrade tea. Thanks for flagging this issue

P.s volunteer plans going apace! I have set a deadline to ask for time off by end Oct. Then hopeully I can have from Christmas this year til about end march

Preethi said...

Hey this is the second post about coffee today!! You might like this poem I wrote a few weeks back Coffee

Yeah Coffee has become almost synonymous to Starbucks or should I say vice versa?

Frugal Trenches said...

I love love love that last line and it is so true.
Brilliant post, like always!

emmani said...

I have to say Preethi, it was reading your post that got me thinking about my lovely cup of coffee a bit more which in turn inspired my post!! Thanks...x

Thanks you Frugal, I can't stand this whole fashion fad eco green business, it should be everyday boring life just like paying taxes!