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Tuesday, September 29, 2015



Editor’s Note: In many places around the world, including the USA, today is celebrated as a national coffee day.  But the UN sanctioned trade group known as the International Coffee Organization (ICO) has officially called for October 1, 2015 to be the first International Coffee Day.  So what’s the deal? Guest blogger Peter Giuliano is a specialty coffee symposium director for the ICO and he calls for awareness of the importance of internationalist solidarity in the world coffee industry.

GUEST BLOG—By Peter Giuliano--As a political concept, internationalism emphasizes trade, exchange, communication and respect between and among people and nations. It respects all humans on the planet as citizens of the world, each with human rights. It promotes connection and solidarity across national borders. It is the opposite of nationalism and its extreme forms, jingoism and xenophobia.

Coffee is, of course, essentially and historically international. Indigenous only to East Africa, it made its way to Asia early in its history, and it was there it was first traded internationally- first by the Arabs, then by Europeans, and later in the Americas and throughout Asia.

The trade of coffee, along with other foods like spices, sugar, cod, and cacao, helped create the trade network we still use today. Sadly, this trade often carried with it international abuses- the slave trade was a part of this same network, and much of the structure of international trade was built upon the framework of colonialism.

When thinking of internationalism in coffee, therefore, we must recognize the history and potential for international oppression, and understand that the best remedy for that is positive international exchange, a commitment to international human rights, and increased communication.  Today, the specialty coffee community is one of the most international there is- it is frankly impossible to get coffee into a person’s cup without engaging in international trade in some way.

Therefore, on International Coffee Day, we are called to celebrate the benefits of internationalism in coffee while we recommit to rejecting its ills, and seeking progress towards enlightened international exchange and solidarity. Today, we remind ourselves that the only way to move towards better quality, true sustainability, and universal prosperity in coffee is to embrace the global diversity of our trade. Everyone can- and should- do this. How? I’m glad you asked!

Celebrate Internationalism Vertically
Wherever you sit on the coffee chain from coffee farmer to coffee drinker, you are a part of a connected line of individuals which grows up from the farm into the cup. This International Coffee Day, identify and celebrate someone else in that line. If you’re a barista, investigate the coffee you’re serving today; there was a farmer somewhere who grew it- and you might even know their name or their co-op’s name.

Why not learn a little more?

Do you know exactly where the coffee was grown? Can you pronounce the name of the town? Can you find their email- either by googling or asking the roaster- and thank them for their work?

Can you tweet at them? If you’re a coffee lover- can you find out where the coffee came from, and see if you can contact them?

This year, I plan to reach out to one of my favorite co-ops, CENFROCAFE** in Northern Peru, to say hi and remind them that I look forward to drinking their coffee every year. I’ll also offer my help and solidarity. For those whom face a language barrier, why not use Google Translate to break down the barrier, which is the very purpose for which it was designed?

Celebrate Internationalism Horizontally
Whether you’re a coffee roaster, a barista, an importer, a consumer, or a salesperson, you have an international peer somewhere in Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, the Americas, or elsewhere. Today, why not rekindle that contact or establish a new one? Solidarity among coffee people transcends political boundaries- it’s likely that a coffee roaster in Europe faces many of the same challenges and aspirations as one in Australia. Why not reach out to one? I think I’ll email my friend and hero Yuko Itoi of Cafetime in Kyoto, who I’ve lost contact with in recent years.

Get involved in International Efforts
The most powerful things happening in coffee right now are international efforts to improve the coffee trade worldwide. World Coffee Events is behind the World Barista Championship and other global coffee competitions. Re:co Symposium is an intentional effort to bring international coffee leaders together for idea sharing and to foster innovation. World Coffee Events and the Coffee Quality Institute are international organizations dedicated to coffee research, development, and progress.

The International Coffee Organization is the organization dedicated to economic internationalism, and is holding a Global Coffee Forum in Milan this very week. As you may have heard, the SCAE and SCAA- already international organizations themselves- are exploring ways to work together, to form the largest international coffee network dedicated to quality, sustainability and progress we’ve ever seen.

If you care about internationalism, get involved in one or more of these efforts. As a first step, you could watch one of the Re:co talks on the subject- perhaps Paul Stack’s appeal for international cooperation, or the ICO’s own Mauricio Galindo’s talk about the international coffee market.

But, most of all, just recognizing the international effort it took to get delicious coffee into the cup is a critical first step.

Have a great International Coffee Day, everyone.

**See October 3, 2015 posting on Pillar to Post[] for an update on CENTROCAFE, the coffee producing cooperative in Northern Peru mentioned in this blog.


No free coffee here, but in honor of National Coffee Day—today--Starbucks will plant a coffee tree for every bag of coffee purchased.

Peet's Coffee & Tea will give you a free small cup of its Major Dickason Blend with the purchase of any baked good, oatmeal or fresh food item.

Krispy Kreme is offering a free small cup of coffee and an original glazed doughnut.

Death Wish Coffee offers free shipping on online coffee purchases today only:

Members of the IKEA Family program a free cup of coffee. But then, members always get a free cup of coffee.

Whole Foods is offering a cup of coffee for 25 cents. If you buy an Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods will donate $1 to the Whole Planet Foundation.

Caribou Coffee says that for every cup of Amy's Blend purchased on National Coffee Day, it will donate a cup of coffee to nurses and families in cancer centers around the country.

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