Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee
In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century-globalization, immigration, women’s rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination-are played out in villages and remote areas around the world. In Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee, a unique hybrid of Fair Trade business, adventure travel, and cultural anthropology, author Dean Cycon brings readers face-to-face with the real people who make our morning coffee ritual possible.
Second only to oil in terms of its value, the coffee trade is complex with several levels of middlemen removing the 28 million growers in fifty distant countries far from you and your morning cup. And, according to Cycon, 99 percent of the people involved in the coffee economy have never been to a coffee village. They let advertising and images from the major coffee companies create their worldview.
Cycon changes that in this compelling book, taking the reader on a tour of ten countries in nine chapters through his passionate eye and unique perspective. Cycon, who is himself an amalgam-equal parts entrepreneur, activist, and mischievous explorer-has traveled extensively throughout the world’s tropical coffeelands, and shows readers places and people that few if any outsiders have ever seen. Along the way, readers come to realize the promise and hope offered by sustainable business principles and the products derived from cooperation, fair pricing, and profit sharing.
Cycon introduces us to the Mamos of Colombia-holy men who believe they are literally holding the world together-despite the severe effects of climate change caused by us, their “younger brothers.” He takes us on a trip through an ancient forest in Ethiopia where many believe that coffee was first discovered 1,500 years ago by the goatherd Kaldi and his animals. And readers learn of Mexico’s infamous Death Train, which transported countless immigrants from Central America northward to the U.S. border, but took a horrifying toll in lost lives and limbs.
Rich with stories of people, landscapes, and customs, Javatrekker offers a deep appreciation and understanding of the global trade and culture of coffee.
In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century-globalization, immigration, women’s rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination-are played out in villages and remote areas around the world.
What is Fair Trade Coffee?
Coffee prices paid to the farmer are based on the international commodity price for coffee (the “C” price) and the quality premium each farmer negotiates. Fair Trade provides an internationally determined minimum floor price when the C plus premium sinks below $1.26 per pound for conventional and $1.41 for organics (that’s us!). As important as price, Fair Trade works with small farmers to create democratic cooperatives that insure fair dealing, accountability and transparency in trade transactions. In an industry where the farmer is traditionally ripped off by a host of middlemen, this is tremendously important.
Cooperatives are examined by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO), or the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT), European NGOs, for democratic process and transparency. Those that pass are listed on the FLO Registry or become IFAT members. Cooperatives provide important resources and organization to small farmers in the form of technical assistance for crop and harvest improvement, efficiencies in processing and shipping, strength in negotiation and an array of needed social services, such as health care and credit. Fair Trade also requires pre-financing of up to sixty percent of the value of the contract, if the farmers ask for it. Several groups, such as Ecologic and Green Development Fund have created funds for pre-finance lending.
Reviews and Praise
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review-
This surprisingly gripping travelogue is filled with tales from the "coffeelands," barely-on-the-map locales in Africa, the Americas, and Asia where coffee farmers struggle to survive. Written with knowledge and good cheer by the founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee, the book reads more like a trippy adventure than a business trip, though the issues Cycon raises are vital, prescient and little known ("99 percent of the people involved in coffee... have never been to a coffee village"). While learning first-hand about the hardships involved in growing and selling coffee beans-the world's second most valuable commodity, after oil-the author finds himself in Guatemala praying to an effigy in a Mickey Mouse tie and cowboy boots; eating armadillo leg in Colombia; working to heal landmine victims in Nicaragua and war widows in Sumatra; and meeting with all manner of farmers, bureaucrats and dignitaries. His dispatches are highly enlightening, demonstrating how few national governments provide coffee growers with water, education, health care or even protection from harmful pesticides; further, coffee growers' income is subject to the whims of financial speculators half a world away. Reading this eye-opening book, it's impossible not to reconsider-and feel grateful for-the myriad people behind your morning cup.
More Reviews and Praise
"Who would have thought that a cup of coffee contained World Bank schemes, indigenous rights, third world women's empowerment and a wide range of globalization issues? Dean Cycon reveals the worlds within worlds of coffee that have to make us think about the choices we make at the supermarket or café."--Susan Sarandon, actress and activist
"Coffee is more than just a drink. It is about politics, survival, the earth and the lives of indigenous peoples. Dean Cycon has been involved with indigenous rights, in coffee and in the larger sphere, for the twenty-seven years I have known him. He has a rich knowledge of the people and places of coffee, and knows how to tell our stories in a sensitive, insightful and often humorous way. Javatrekker is a great book for anyone who wants to know what is really going on in their morning cup."--Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureate and author of I, Rigoberta Menchu and Crossing Borders
"Dean Cycon is a born storyteller. . . and he has some extraordinary stories to tell in Javatrekker. Dean is the rare individual who possesses a keen intellect, quick wit, without the taint of cynicism or world-weariness. He's a rebel and a trailblazer with a deep passion for the fundamental causes of fairness, freedom, and environmentalism. Javatrekker is a great read because it is, first and foremost, entertaining in the swashbuckling style of Anthony Bourdain or Jack Kerouac. But Dean's stories possess a depth of spirit and a love for his subjects that many adventure writers lack. And his core subject-coffee-is so universally familiar (and yet little-understood) that I believe his potential audience is enormous."--Stephen Braun, author of the award-winning Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine
"Dean is truly a singular character in the world of coffee roasters. He takes an intense interest in knowing the origins of his coffee. While most roasters and importers brag about their 'Third World' experiences, Dean travels to the 'Fourth World,' getting down and dirty with the indigenous groups growing the coffees, way out beyond where most folks will go. He is embraced universally by these groups and hailed as a true brother. His visits to these locations and his ability to bring these coffees to the U.S. market and pay Fair Trade pricing to the growers has brought large scale economic recovery to thousands of small coffee farmers around the world."--John Cossette, Royal Coffee, Inc.
"It's not often that a book with great politics is also a great read. Dean Cycon puts a face and a story in each cup of coffee I will ever drink. This is a book for anyone who loves coffee as well as anyone who wants to know the real life stories behind those who provide us with this second-most-traded commodity after oil. Dean Cycon is an informed, lively, straight-shooting guide. I've always been grateful to him for the work he has done to bring a conscience to coffee. Now I can add my gratitude for the stories he tells so vividly and powerfully in Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee."--Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and A Cafecito Story
"Dean Cycon's experience has ranged from Native communities in North America to the depths of the oceans and remote coffee producing villages and communities internationally. Cycon's analysis and experience, as well as his humorous and engaging style, promise to bring stories to the light of day that would not and could not be told, simply because no one else has his range of experience. Coffee is god to many of us in the morning, and yet, we know so little about its history and present issues. Linking coffee drinkers to the communities is the work of Dean Cycon in an animated, vital and forever engaging manner. Javatrekker promises to be a set of stories, adventures and compelling relationships told for all of us to eagerly read."--Winona LaDuke, indigenous rights activist, author of All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life and Recovering the Sacred
About The Author
|Book Art:||Black and white, color photos and maps|
|Size:||6 x 9 inch|
|Publisher:||Chelsea Green Publishing|
|Pub. Date:||October 17, 2007|
Available In/Retail PricePaperback, 300 pages, $24.95
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