For a guy who just learned English a couple of years ago, getting on stage at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse next to representatives from Equal Exchange and Green America was a bit of a daunting prospect.
But you know, it’s always easier when you’re speaking your truth.
If you haven’t seen it yet, “Connected by Coffee” is like a really informative road trip movie combined with an unexpected emotional gut-punch. The coffee lands of Central America are just so beautiful. The landscape is beautiful. The people are beautiful. Even the crazy technicolor buses are beautiful. Beneath the surface, though, there are just so many challenges that coffee farmers have to overcome to make a go of it.
In just 70 minutes, “Connected By Coffee” takes you on a trip through the history of the coffee industry, its role in the civil wars that shaped these countries, and introduces you to the people whose lives these events shaped. The filmmakers also explain how the recent outbreak of leaf rust threatens the livelihood of entire communities.
One of the long-term solutions, they suggest, is for consumers in the United States and elsewhere to get engaged in where their coffee comes from. While looking for certifications like ‘Fair Trade’ is one way to do so, in the end, the best business comes down to personal relationships, they suggest. Good advice from where we’re sitting.
Which gets us back to the stage.
The owners of Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse recently organized a screening of this wonderful film and asked us to join them for a panel discussion afterwards. Carlos did a great job answering questions about his own experiences, as well as how customers can make responsible choices.
Like the filmmakers, we believe that it’s important to develop a personal relationship with those you choose to support. When we order coffee, we select from the offerings where the importer has the strongest relationships and we ask about the price the farmer is receiving. While we believe that certifications are an important part of the movement to create a sustainable industry, what we value more than a label is trust in our suppliers and transparency to the source.