I was standing in a hotel lobby gift shop surrounded by California trinkets. Printed towels, souvenir spoons with lighthouses, stuffed toy dolphins and other crap. I saw a middle-aged guy, soft around the middle with an SCAA* bag slung on his shoulder, looking at a snow globe.
“Have a good show?” I asked.
It was the last day of the world’s largest specialty coffee conference in 2007. I was working with Coffee Kids, an NGO dedicated to helping coffee-farming families improve their quality of life.
“Yup, it went well, yours?” he asked.
We talked a bit about our work, the average trade show ‘what do you have that I might need’ banter.
We work in coffee communities, I said, supporting projects in education, food sovereignty, health care, economic diversification – whatever was the priority for the community. Our funding comes from coffee companies or others in the industry and supported a wide variety of projects.
“Hmmm… well that doesn’t sound like a good idea, sounds like you’re training farmers to get out of coffee,” he challenged. “Now why would I ever want to support something like that, something that could drive my prices up?”