The cost of coffee

 The cost of coffee


It had been over 20 years, at least a coffee wave or two, since I regularly bought whole bean coffee at coffee houses. I was spoiled by Starbucks at the start of my coffee drinking life. Yes, Starbucks was once a coffee company. They sold great varietals such as Ethiopian Sidamo, Celebes Kalossi, Costa Rica La Terrazu. I say spoiled because I received a free half pound of coffee every week just for putting on my green apron. I worked there long enough so that when I left it was hard for me to stomach paying for whole bean coffee from anywhere but a grocery store. Call me cheap. I ain’t mad.

Getaway Car by Razvan Vezeteu on Dribbble


A couple weekends ago, we are now two decades and at least two coffee waves on from my days wearing the green apron, and I just heard what my pound of Ethiopian Guji was going to cost me.

How much did that cost?

I had been in St. Louis for the weekend and had already visited the Northwest Coffee Company for to go coffee a couple times. On the way out of town I asked my ride to stop in front of Northwest so I could run in and buy some whole bean. I grabbed a bag of an Ethiopian, having fond memories of the African varietals. When I heard the price, my coffee life flashed before my eyes. The line of people behind me were not interested in watching with me. I felt like I had no choice but to leave with the coffee I had in hand. It was the reverse of a bank robbery. The car was running while I was giving the money away. I fled Northwest, jumped in the car, and we sped out of town.


Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to Your Cup by [Jeff Koehler]


I had plenty of time to think as the reverse getaway car sped over the dreary midwinter landscape of central Illinois. The initial sticker shock wore off. I considered but gave up the idea of going back to work at Starbucks just for a free weekly half pound of coffee. They don’t sell coffee anymore anyway.

After some fabulous smash burgers at the Iron Skillet gas station restaurant outside Brazil, Indiana, I felt better. Lunch hadn’t set me back, I did say I was cheap, and I began to look forward to tomorrow morning’s Guji. My mind stayed on coffee, Indiana in January is not an engrossing landscape, and I remembered what I had read about Ethiopian coffee from the book pictured above.

The hard work cost of coffee

Coffee trees are not easy to grow. The original source trees for all the world’s coffee come from the Ethiopian cloud forests, named for the altitude and shade, which are both vital for the growing of said trees.

It is a growing environment that is not easy to replicate. It is not easy to convert the fruit, the coffee cherries into our coffee beverage. This is mostly hard work. And it is hard to grow a coffee tree, hard to get the fruit to mature, and hard to pick it once it does. That is why coffee was originally consumed by popping a coffee cherry into your mouth after it had fallen to the ground.

Additionally, the growing of the fruit of the tree is just the beginning of a long, complicated series of moving parts that bring our coffee, as we drink it, to us all.

That is my review of Where the Wild Coffee Grows. And that is why I don’t review books as such. If you read this book and drink coffee, you will not bitch about the price of a bag of whole bean again. You know, like I did at the start of this post.

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The Guji was well worth it, by the way.


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