Today is National Coffee Day, a time to celebrate the brown, aromatic liquid that provides a much-needed buzz to power through the day.
Coffee came to the United States via Britain in the late 17th century, after which it quickly became a staple of everyday American life. Fast forward a few decades, and coffee now has a market retail value of $48 billion in the U.S. It's also inspired music from acts as disparate as Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, and Sylvan Esso.
But the discussion of coffee doesn't end when you've downed your last sip. Coffee is a complex substance at its core: It faces global shortages due to lack of cultivation, and for many can symbolize gentrification.
For a taste of its many full-bodied facets, here's a look at some of our most well-crafted, Fair Trade articles about that sweet, sweet java:
Peru's Coffee Growing Resistance
There were no cars before. The town was small. Everything was very quiet and everyone helped you. You could see everyone carrying their coffee beans, happy. Everything has changed. Not only the weather but also the people. Nobody wants to work with coffee crops anymore; there is no labor, everyone works at the coca fields where they gain up to five times more than they did with coffee crops.
Why Coffee Shortages Won't Change the Price of Your Frappuccino
The interesting thing about rising coffee prices is not how they’re changing coffee supply and demand in the U.S., but how they aren't. "When you can't find cheap coffee anywhere it'll be inflation," Macke adds. "For now think of this as a luxury tax." Coffee can bear this variability in pricing in part because it's a luxury good, from bodega to-go sludge to Nordic cafes. Drinking a cup isn't, strictly speaking, necessary, but we do it to take part in a culture of coffee that has always been aspirational.
Is Coffee Life's Elixir?
The sweet spot for a prolonged life? Three to five cups a day, which, according to research published earlier this month in Circulation, reduces the risk of dying by 15 percent among non-smokers. Researchers found that drinking a single cup per day was tied to a 6 percent reduced risk of death, while one to three cups per day marked an 8 percent reduced mortality risk.
A Brief History of The Coffee Shop as a Symbol for Gentrification
Thanks to Starbucks, specialty coffee is now a mainstay in most urban neighborhoods, clearing the way for high-end, un-franchised stores to follow. Third-wave coffee also builds on the gentrification-like influences of past coffee crazes—it combines the appeal of the Ottoman Empire-era cosmopolitan hangout with the promise of a cheap space to spend time thinking, like in 17th-century Britain, with the added bonus of giving outsiders an excuse to visit a new and ethnically diverse neighborhood, like in the '50s and '60s.
Fair, but Not Fair Enough: Beyond Fair Trade Coffee
The learning curve for growing commercial coffee turned out to be treacherous. It was, for starters, personally demoralizing—not to mention economically devastating—for Lander to work himself ragged growing a high-quality and heavily demanded product only to collect about 10 cents on the dollar. As matters then stood, he explained, "being a small coffee farmer was no way to make a living." He reached this conclusion despite having sold his beans through a Fair Trade coffee co-op.
This Is Why Your Coffee Beans Matter to the Planet
Protecting the highly diverse wild coffee gene pool as a reservoir will enable us to negotiate new pests and challenges the plant may face and protect the economic, social, and cultural benefits associated with Arabica coffee. Wild coffee is a valuable product, and as such plays a crucial role in generating an income and improving livelihoods for communities, helping to make sure that local people remain committed to undertaking their forest responsibilities. In this respect, wild coffee helps the forest to pay its way.
To read the rest of our coffee coverage, click here.