8/15/14

A Post about A Review about A Film About Coffee



I have long been a coffee admirer - a consistent sipper of black brews and dutiful partaker of our global culture's Official Beverage. But as it seems, fate has placed me on a track to become more than just a fan in the coffee game. My home is in the middle of a coffee field. My neighbor owns a coffee farm. My office desk is 12 inches away from a shelf stocked with a hundred pounds of roasted, artisan coffee. One of our best friends was literally born in a coffee field. I have an infant that gets a vote in my sleep schedule.

And now, I've seen A Film About Coffee.


Like all great stories, A Film About Coffee is about the life of an underdog. Once only a simple pauper in the liquid world, a commodity enslaved to work forever at truck stops and late-night diners, coffee discovers that it is destined to become King of the Beverages. African and Latin-American laborers, expert tasters and buyers, roasters, baristas, and aficionados respond to the revolutionary call of the Coffee King. Having ascended to the throne, his subjects work with clear-minded focus to maintain his originality. When served with excellence, the King responds with transparency and all the people live happily in caffeinated harmony.

The film focuses on what goes into a truly great cup of coffee - what makes 'specialty coffee' so special. From the growers and harvesters of Rwanda and Honduras to the specialty shops of Tokyo and Portland, we listen to coffee tell its own tale. With beautiful macro shots of harvesting, fermenting and drying, pour-overs, siphons, and roasters, we smell with our eyes the sweat, dirt, pulp, and roasted aromas. Sweeping helicopter panoramas and expert interviews help us understand how the flavor and labor of an entire landscape can be packed into one tiny bean only to be released by a dedicated artist thousands of miles away.

Throughout the film, we meet the cast of characters that work so diligently to bring us our favorite cup. Stuffed unceremoniously by a little boy into a little black bag full of dirt - the seed soon opens its eyes and grows into a mature tree. Pickers then start the beans on the journey to consumers. We see dancers work the fermentation tanks and green bean buyers cup hundreds of options. Roasters release a bean's potential before baristas complete its journey. Many of the characters are incredibly memorable - wizened coffee wizards, sweaty slurpers, passionate artists and innovators.

As much as I learned from and enjoyed the entire film, my real satisfaction came from the segment on Honduras. Filmed in the same region we live in, we felt like we knew the coffee farmers and their land. I have often bird-watched the cloud forest on the very same slope of the same mountain. Seeing a group of these local farmers try their own beans lovingly roasted and made into espresso by a professional barista was priceless. Watching these men interact with their direct-buyers really hit home for us and strengthened our resolve to buy direct-trade. We know countless men like these and have seen the difference that fair treatment, accountability, and direct-trade mean for them and their families. The ability to reliably earn an honest income changes these people's lives and futures.

Switching to direct-trade coffee may just be one small change for you in your day-to-day routine, but for our friends and neighbors in Honduras, that one tiny adjustment completely changes their lives and opportunities. Although in Las Lomitas no-one is growing direct-trade coffee currently, I do feel like they could in the future should demand continue to grow. Be a part of opportunity creation and consider drinking direct-trade.

Here in the Dayton area, we recommend our partner Boston Stoker. They have traveled to Honduras with us here at Heart to Honduras several times now and have established direct-trade relationships with some farmers there. They passionately roast the green beans right here in Dayton and have some really great coffee. Check out their site at www.bostonstoker.com or read more about them here.

Once you're comfortably settled in your coffee-drinking chair drinking some fair-trade coffee, check out A Film About Coffee's website, and figure out where the closest screening is.You won't regret it. If you feel like you want to go beyond direct-trade coffee, check out http://hth.org/2011/get_involved/projects/ to see how you can get involved in sustainable development in Honduras.

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