Liquid Gold

Over $80 billion is spent on coffee each year
A $50 billion increase since 1990
Meanwhile Ethiopia’s 15 million coffee farmers
Are poorer than ever

We have the audacity to call it liquid gold
Black roasted beans in flimsy paper cups
What would we actually pay for gold?
How dare we call it something we’re not willing to pay for
Pathetically we tiptoe through grocery aisles purchasing what we deem worthy of our precious dollar while
African farmers huddle in fragile shacks with 15 hungry family members
And beg God to give them a good price for their beans
If they were only paid 10 fold what they’re paid now, they could send their children to school
They still wouldn’t have electricity or running water but
Their children would be educated in classrooms that can’t even afford blackboards

Creamy dark coffee
Downed in minutes
Unappreciated for the hands that picked it
Hands which banished the bad beans and salvaged the good
Worn hands of mothers with 10 children who can’t
Afford to feed them for the
Low price they’re paid
Tired hands of mothers who sit on hard benches eight hours a day
Sifting through beans to earn half a dollar
Bleeding hands of wives whose husbands have broken backs from
Hours spent in coffee fields where the sun splits open their skin and
The world rips open their pocketbooks
Exposing them for everything they’ve got on World Vision commercials then
Sending aid in an envelope while purchasing commercialised coffee
For far less than its worth

Starbucks pats itself on the back for being in business since 1971 and caring for its
Pasty white consumers
Meanwhile its coffee suppliers weigh their children on handmade scales to see if they qualify for food, in a land bloated with famine

I’m sick with grief and wonder
Will we ever trade, not aid?
Will we ever love more than we live?
Will we ever think before we consume?



  1. barclee. said,

    October 26, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    “Will we ever love more than we live?”

    what a true challenge.

  2. Auntie D said,

    October 29, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I very rarely ever drink coffe, but when I went into Safeway today they were filling the bulk cannisters. The aroma of those coffee beans sure smelled wonderful!! And then I also thought about your blog. Thanks for sharing. Yes, we sure do take a lot for granted. And so often we do not give thanks for the many blessings that we have in this country.

  3. Allison said,

    November 4, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    thank you for aching, and for acting upon what moves your heart, ember.
    you teach me to move! 🙂

  4. November 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have been selling fairly traded food products at concerts for a year now. I get them from Level Ground in Victoria ( I share your convictions and want to help make a difference this way. Keep interceding and challenging the status quo!

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