I love a good coffee shop and frequent many of them in my own city. I certainly have my favorites. Depending on what you’re looking for, I can usually make a great recommendation. If you want a great co-working atmosphere, there’s one for that. If you want the best cold brew, the best bulk roasted beans, or the best dirty chai latte, there’s one for that too. There is definitely a buzz of culture that happens in the coffee shop environment.
Coffee consumption has become more than just the black breakfast diner brew that my Grandpa drinks every morning. There are now experts whose particular palate can distinguish premium roasted beans and the perfectly timed espresso shot. Now you can have beautiful little leaves made of foam adorn the top of your latte. It has become the drink that embodies conversation. The local coffee shop has become this neutral ground by which you can meet for conversations. Offering someone a cup of coffee in your home has long been a symbol of hospitality.
The Best Thing About Coffee
However, perhaps the best thing about coffee is the way that it bridges relationships. Coffee is not just prevalent in Western cultures. In fact, coffee has a deep and rich history that spans the entire world. It is actually one of the agricultural crops that account for the livelihoods in many communities where Food for the Hungry (FH) works. Even vulnerable families are happy to offer a cup to traveling and visiting FH staff. Recently, an FH staff member was working in Ethiopia and had conducted an interview on livestock feed and food distribution. The family insisted that the staff join them in their home for a cup of coffee. In fact, nothing less should have been expected… as Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee! The mother of the family roasted the beans over an open fire and insisted that the staff stay for a meal. The hospitality and generosity of the families we work with will always astound me.
Coffee in the DRC
Coffee culture isn’t only big in Ethiopia. In fact, in another part of Africa, coffee in the DRC comes in the form of growing it! Coffee, as simple as it may seem, moves far beyond my morning routine. It deeply improves lives, and I don’t just mean the countless times it helped me get through late-night study sessions in college. In addition to caffeine, coffee can dramatically improve living situations. Take Maruhusa Eva. Maruhusa Eva is a widow with six children living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). When her husband died, he left her a coffee field, but it was abandoned and offered her no income.
Maruhusa Eva working in her coffee fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When FH started working in her community, they provided her with coffee plants as well as training sessions on best practices for growing the crop. She’s now a part of the Tuungane Cooperative that includes 1,500 farmers. This group for coffee in the DRC has helped her connect with others who have a common interest.
“It has also created jobs for women because only women are hired to work at the coffee washing station. I had never before seen a place where there are only women working!” said Muruhusa.
By washing the coffee, the project also greatly improved the quality of the coffee, affecting the selling price and ultimately her income. “It gives us an income that allows us to improve our living conditions. This project builds us up; now I can provide for my children!”
The next time you offer someone a cup of coffee in your home or ask to meet up with a friend at a coffee shop, I hope you’ll think of the vulnerable people all over the world who rely on FH programs to improve their lives, even through things that seem simple such as coffee. You can provide coffee seedlings to a farmer here.
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