April 25, 2019

Economics and Fair Trade Coffee - Katie's Takeaway from the 2019 Specialty Coffee Expo

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Economics and Fair Trade Coffee - Katie's Takeaway from the 2019 Specialty Coffee Expo

Two weeks ago, the Homestead crew traveled to Boston for the 2019 Specialty Coffee Expo - it was an intense and valuable experience.

I attended lectures on the science of fermentation in the processing of coffee beans and how it affects the flavors in the cup - a lot like wine. I learned about unique coffee processing methods and the science behind the flavors in a cup. There was so much information to bring back to the roasting room!

I also attended lectures on the economics of coffee and the market price, which is globally dictated by the International Commodities Exchange. I learned that, historically, the market price of coffee has oftentimes left farmers barely able to support themselves. 

Coffee farmer in Honduras

During one of many lectures, I sat in a room with farmers from across the globe, buyers and sellers, scientists, baristas, and roasters, and I had a moment of understanding: this whole industry is a manifestation of our interconnectedness, on a global level. Each individual involved in the journey of this simple plant, from harvest to cup, is contributing their own unique skill set to a greater purpose. Hands and minds work together to keep this thing in motion that ultimately boils down to the joy of a steaming cup in someone's hands and a sip of coffee to start their day.

Underneath, or inside, of all of these moving parts: growing, harvesting, the science of processing, exporting, importing, roasting, brewing, is the beating heart of humanity. I was moved to feel plugged in to it and to see my own part as a piece in the puzzle. Additionally, to know that we, as a company, purchase our coffees well above Fair Trade prices, ensuring that our partners thrive too, made me feel proud and even more filled with purpose. 

The farmer is the source, without whom none of the rest is possible. The Homestead, as a family owned and operated business, parallels the nature of many of the small family farms who provide our coffee. Knowing that our awareness and energy (and investments) flow toward fairness and equality, and being among the very people who ARE this process, was my most powerful takeaway from the Coffee Expo.

- Katie Kime