For those of you fortunate enough to work in the coffee industry, you’ll know it affords us numerous benefits – not least the endless supply of free specialty coffee for our personal consumption… (When was the last time we actually bought coffee for our home?)
Yet, we derive so much more from this industry: the opportunity to work with some of the most hard working, relaxed and friendly people out there. The constant evolution and development of an exciting specialty sector of the industry… a job where no 2 days are the same. And last but by no means least – we get to travel.
Knowledge is Power!
The guys at DRWakefield know a thing or two about coffee. For some of us we’ve been born and raised in it – for others we may have come to the party a little late – but at least we have come! And that’s what counts. And as for our knowledge – well, that comes from living in origin and our extensive field trips to origin. It’s like wondering why your physics class is relevant until the school organises a trip to a theme park to demonstrate real world applications of calculating G-Force – and the penny finally drops.
So why do we go to Origin ? Well, for several reasons:
1) We get to spend time with our valued partners / suppliers / friends. We cultivate and manage our relationships which make the process of trading a whole lot easier.
2) We learn stuff – like how coffee is being grown, what processes are being used (and how these work). We learn about the upcoming crops and quality we can expect, and get to see first hand the kinds of complex logistics coffee needs to go through to get to UK shores.
3) We get to share the experience with some of our clients too – so they can see for themselves that what we have been telling them all these years isn’t too far from the actual truth.
4) It affords us a level of unrivaled transparency and traceability – we can go to a farm and watch our coffee being loaded in to a bag side by side with the producer.
5) Because coffee is almost exclusively grown in sensationally beautiful countries, that are warm, sunny and packed full of wonderful people.
The Origin Low-Down
Before your colleagues refer to your next origin trip as a “Holiday”, it is worth noting the following:
Origin trips almost always start with ridiculously early mornings. Either for the journey out – or when you’re out there transferring from one region to the next.
Coffee is almost never ever grown within a sensible distance of an international airport (save for Kenya and Costa Rica perhaps) which means that your 4am start to the day to catch the 11 hour flight to origin only delivers you to a city from which to begin the second leg of your journey – either a connecting flight to a tiny regional airport the size of your Nan’s living room, or an epic over land journey up to the highlands of coffee growing abundance. However you slice it – it’s reasonable to expect a good 24 hours before you arrive in Coffee growing Mecca.
Once safely arrived (having successfully navigated immigration, local traffic, hotel check-ins, malaria tablets and established the all-important wi-fi connection to check your emails) you remember to eat something. As someone who might prefer to “live to eat” rather than “eat to live”, origin cuisine can oft pose something of a challenge… Our advice would be to just get stuck in! It might look a little different, but potatoes in Peru are a little different to ours. As for the sloppy brown paste in Ethiopia; pick it up with your hands and go for it – Shiro is simply sublime!
…Just remember to pack some Imodium you never know!
All the Gear and No Idea?
Get kitted out and wear appropriate clothing. Coffee growing areas tend to naturally be high in altitude – and often high in temperature with hot days followed by cold nights. Drink lots of water. Wear lots of sun cream. Wear a hat. Take lots of pictures. Write lots of notes. Taste lots of coffee. Be complimentary. Learn lots. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Be gracious. Be grateful. Respect people’s right of privacy.
But most of all enjoy it – you’re getting to see the world in a way that no tourist can – in the homestead of a coffee farmer, eating lunch with their families as a welcomed guest. Globalisation doesn’t come better than this!