This is truly a no-brainer, yet how often do we take that morning cup of joe for granted? And if you think about it, it really is quite a gift that we can enjoy a cup of hot, strong coffee at just about any time.
After all, coffee doesn't grow just anywhere. It literally is a worldwide production that enables those beans to arrive in the grocery store, and eventually make it to our kitchens. First of all, the coffee bean that we typically drink, called the Arabica, grows in high, mountainous regions over a period of time (between 7 to 9 months), and also needs an annual rainfall between 1500 to 3000mm. This set of specifications considerably narrows down where coffee can be grown well. According to www.investopedia.com, around 70 countries produce coffee, but the overwhelming majority of the supply comes from 5 countries: Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and of course, Colombia. Only two states in the U.S. are able to grow coffee commercially, California and Hawaii. Puerto Rico also has a small coffee growing industry.
Then, let's not forget all the hands that are involved with harvesting the beans, sorting them, packing them, selling them to exporters, shipping them, unloading them, buying them and finally sending them to a roasting house. The roasting house packages the beans (either whole or after grinding) and sends them out to line the shelves of the stores, where we come and purchase them. A very long journey, from start to finish, involving many people and processes, and a lot of cooperation. Read more about Coffee Production HERE.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially as Catholics, is that coffee is a commodity that can be purchased via the Fair Trade network. What's Fair Trade? In a nutshell, the Fair Trade network ensures that the small farmers who are growing the coffee beans on their land are paid a fair price for their product. Keep in mind that "fair" does not mean exorbitant. It means that farmers are paid a living wage so that they can provide the basics for their families - medical care, school supplies, food and shelter. Learn more about how important Fair Trade is HERE.
So, the next time you reach for a fresh cup of coffee, remember the long journey it took to get to you, and all the hands that were involved along the way.
Lord, thank you for the gift of coffee. We pray for all those involved in its production. Amen.
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