In my misspent youth many moons ago I collected stamps. It’s a hobby that in the age of the Internet and email seems to have been forgotten. Although I didn’t know it at the time it provided an amazing education in geography and politics. Learning without knowing you are learning.
There were the most expensive stamps such as the British Guiana 1c magenta, the first ever stamp, the Penny Black. African colonies such as Tanganyika and Nyasaland. Stamps in the shape of countries such as Sierra Leone. History, politics and geography all mixed up in the humble stamp.
So what has that got to do with coffee? Well in about a week’s time we will take delivery of coffee from Jamaica, Cuba, Myanmar, Colombia and Congo. Each origin is found in a different part of the world, many on different continents and each with their own political history. Cuba, Castro; Myanmar and the Rohingya; Colombia and the FARC guerrillas; Congo and civil war among some of the news stories that have made the headlines of the last 50 years. Meanwhile Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is among the most expensive coffee grown on the planet.
So just being involved in coffee gives us an insight into so many issues that affect our world today. We’re learning simply because we are consumers of this incredible product.
In so many ways we coffee roasters are modern day stamp collectors. However unlike stamps the economic impact of our coffee consuming habit can make a real financial difference today to all who are involved in the chain. That’s pretty exciting and highlights that learning is lifelong not just something we did when we went to school.