Tag Archives: fair-trade

Optimism From OLPC

To say the least, I’ve been ambivalent about the One Laptop Per Child project. And I was not alone in my OLPC discomfort.

But now, I feel optimistic. Not about the OLPC project. But because that project is enabling something important.

Continue reading


Goût de café: Jacques Attali

Depuis ma lecture de son Bruits, Jacques Attali est entré dans la longue liste des gens avec qui j’aimerais prendre un café.

C’est pas tant que je sois d’accord avec ses idées ou même avec son approche. Il me sert pas non plus de modèle. Mais je trouve certaines de ses analyses très compatibles avec ma propre approche et j’aimerais bien pouvoir discuter avec lui, quelques minutes. D’autant plus qu’il me semble assez facile d’approche.

C’est sans doute trompeur, mais son attitude générale me semble rendre possible des contacts informels, au-delà des statuts. Cette attitude est, d’après moi, trop rare parmi certaines catégories d’intellectuels. Pourtant, la vie de l’esprit n’est pas vraiment une quête du prestige.


The Other Carlos Castañeda

USATODAY.com – Colombia unveils newest coffee ambassador

Apart from the homonymy with the well-known and very controversial writer, the new
Juan Valdez has the distinction of being a coffee farmer himself. In a context in which ethics are increasingly marketable, a brand-based persona may be so flexible.

The USA Today piece provides a short but useful summary of some economic issues behind the global coffee market. One thing that can be said is that Columbia’s Fedecafe has successfully achieved recognition for being a major force behind consistent quality in coffee production. Their coffee beans might not produce the most complex flavours or aromas, but they serve as a decent base in a blend because they’re usually clean-tasting.

With the Cup of Excellence program, Columbia could achieve recognition for superior quality coffee, along with other coffee producing regions of Central and South America (Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua).

Coupled with the controversial “Fair Trade” programs, these marketing and auction programs are changing the global coffee trade.


Coffee, Globalisation, “Race”

I’m usually a bit careful before jumping on the soapbox, but this is quite interesting. It’s from the blog for Black Gold, a documentary about the global coffee market.

The Trials of Daryl Hunt deals with national racism in the US justice system and [Black Gold] deals with the globalised racism maintained through a rigged international economy that undermines any sense of economic justice for the developing world, in particular Africa

Heard about Black Gold on the CoffeeGeek podcast. Haven’t seen the movie yet but comments about it in that podcast make it to be a powerful movie about the plight of coffee farmers, but with some flaws. The point remains (and is well-made by CoffeeGeek Senior Editor Mark Prince) that this story needs to be told, that people need to realise what is going on.

Usually, “Black Gold” refers to petroleum more directly than to coffee. Interestingly enough, coffee is (as coffee people are fond of saying) the second most-traded commodity after oil. And brewed coffee is usually black, or at least dark. So the title seems fitting, if a bit ambiguous. Going further with that stream of consciousness, we can think about skin colour and skin tone, which are used to identify “racial” groups by some people. It might have been on the minds of the documentary’s producers, as they do mention Africa and racism.

This in a context in which some people seem to think that Africa’s economic status relates more indirectly to internal politics, lack of business acumen, and kinship (i.e., Africans themselves) than to global trade or politics. We definitely need a broad discussion of the “Dark Continent” stereotype. And, yes, we do need to touch upon the issue of racism. It’s there and it has a deep impact on the world in which we all live.

Food for thought? Thought for food.


Glocal Craftiness: Coffee, Beer, Music

Was listening to the portafilter.net podcast (Episode 23) and thinking about coffee shops, cafés, brewpubs, bars, bands, venues…

Continue reading