As a writer, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. On average, I visit a café at least once per day, and usually do the tour of my local faves on weekends. This means, I likely spend $30-40 CAD per week on coffee, which is more than I budget for my phone, transportation, and sometimes entertainment (and I wonder why my only assets are my MacBook Pro, my Canon Rebel, and a couple of cute Anthropologie dresses).
For me, coffee is more than a daily dose of caffeine. It’s a reunion with friends I haven’t seen in years, or a regular catch-up with the people I see every day. It’s the motivation to teach a 6am spin class or go for a morning run when all I want to do is hit snooze and roll over. It’s a source of inspiration for grad school papers, blog posts, and writing my first novel.
Coffee has also been an integral part of the conversations that have changed my life: first dates, painful breakups, job interviews, and crucial advice from friends or family.
While coffee is a regular part of my daily life, I never really considered the complex story behind the coffee I consume.
However, after visiting the Tio Conejo coffee farm this past weekend, I learned that behind every cup of coffee there’s a struggle to build stronger, healthier, more sustainable communities. There’s an effort to be part of the full circle of life by giving back to the land and being able to pass on history, traditions and culture to the next generation.
At every step in the production process, there’s labour, sweat, and pain, as well as hope, innovation, and social change. After a day at the coffee farm, it was clear to me that producing a high-quality cup of coffee means a lot more than profiting from a commodity crop on the world market.
Stages in Coffee Production
Cultivating Nutrient-Dense Soil
Here’s where I come in! I’d be a completely different person without my morning brew. Thank you, coffee farmers, for all of the work that you to do to improve my quality of life…by helping me wake up in the morning, inspiring my writing, supporting engaging conversations with friends and families, and warming my insides on a cold winter day.
If you are in the Manizales area, or if you are a coffee roaster, café owner, barista, or curious consumer, I’d recommend taking a trip to Tio Conejo to learn about the origins of coffee and the story of where your coffee comes from. (When I was there, I met a couple from Black Dog Coffee in West Virginia who made the trip to Colombia to learn about the farm that produces the beans they roast for their customers!!)
For more info about Tio Conejo, check out this awesome video: