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 coworking atmosphere there’s one for that. If you want a great deal and a drive through, there’s one for that. If you want the best cold brew, or the best bulk roasted beans, or great live music, 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 the way that coffee bridges relationships is that it’s not just prevalent in western cultures. It has the same meaning all over the 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. 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, 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. It can dramatically improve living situations. Maruhusa Eva is a widow with six children living in the 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.
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 has helped her connect with others who have a common interest. The project created jobs for women in the community through the coffee washing stations and greatly improved the quality of the coffee Maruhusa sells affecting the price and ultimately her income. Maruhusa can now provide for her 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. See how you can support these programs here.