Friday, March 02, 2007

Wake up and smell the Coffee!

Here we are in FairTrade Fortnight. Hopefully we are all drinking fair-trade coffee and tea (although I’m still drinking the Cuban coffee I brought back with me from my trip there last April – but I guess that was pretty fairly traded – I gave them my convertible peso’s and they use the Euro’s I converted from to improve their economy the best they can. Let’s not get political about Cuba – but can you imagine 40 years of trade embargo and exactly what state OUR economy would be in? Forget the politics, think about the people.

To digress – Cubita – which to the best of my knowledge cannot be bought in UK – is the best coffee in the world. The smoothness of Kenyan but even better. A taste of smooth sunshine. If you like stronger, bitter coffee you CAN get Turquino (which is Cuba’s other roast from the more mountainous region) from various suppliers in UK. But for my taste – Cubita rocks. And the day they lift the ridiculous economic sanctions on Cuba and allow us to import it, I may well change career and become a fair trade coffee importer.

Yes, I am passionate about Cuba and about Coffee. And about many other things “ethical.” Yes, I know that the most one can do is just a small gesture against a huge “evil empire” but I still feel that “doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do” irrespective of whether you win or lose.

Back to the coffee. Fairtrade coffee is obviously the way to go for anyone who wants to make the world a better place. But did you know that at least as big a problem for the small coffee producers (the one’s we’re trying to help, I don’t mean the 4 large coffee barons (oops I mean roasters, no, really I mean barons) Nestle/Kraft/Proctor and Gamble and Sara Lee ) is soluble coffee. That’s instant coffee to you and me. I recently came across a really interesting report produced by Oxfam in 2002 called “Mugged” (which you can download from their website) I promise you, by the time you’ve read your way through the 59 pages you will NOT want to drink instant coffee.

The point is that because of the low quality required for instant coffee, large producers can buy up huge amounts of low quality stuff, thus making it impossible for our friends (the small producers) to grow the decent stuff.

Now I ask you – is it REALLY necessary to drink instant coffee? How long and how much effort does it take to make coffee properly? And how much better does it taste? If you drink the instant stuff, not only are you not drinking coffee, you are, with every gulp, lessening the life prospects of our friends (the small producers) and effectively working against Fair Trade.

Yes, I KNOW that even the Fair Trade brands make instant coffee options, but really, they shouldn’t. We should all get wise to the deeper issues and STOP drinking instant coffee.

1 comment:

Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Do you actually support Fidel? He's excuted 1000's of Cubans without trial, disappeared hundreds and forced about 70,000 into the Straits of Florida where they perished. Dis you know that the US is Cuba's biggest supplier of food and medicine now?