“How many of you have ever tasted coffee from your home hill?” I asked while requesting a show of hands. One person raised their hand. One person. Just one. Over 200 coffee farmers were circled around us at the community gathering point on Gaharo hill. It was hot and dusty. The morning light of Africa falling harshly on people’s faces. The community elders sat behind rustic wooden tables. The rest of the community sat on small benches or on the ground. We spent the morning listening to the challenges the farmers are facing, sharing ideas and thoughts about change and the future.
We brewed coffee over a fire, passing it through a small sieve and into cups. It’s about as rustic a brew method as you can imagine and it was amazing coffee. I talked about the meaning of coffee in my home culture. “Sharing a coffee means sharing friendship and community and ideas” I said, feeling unsteady with the words. Does it? Cups were shared around the circle, one cup seeing many lips and hands. Florence, wrapped in a beautiful blue igitenge, griped my hands and thanked us for bringing such a lovely gift. My core was all shaken up at the thought. Coffee is part of everyday living for most people, we “can’t live without it” (my own words) and yet it’s a foreign treasure to this small hill of coffee growers sitting in their town square surrounded by… coffee trees.
Lauren, Long Miles’ Farmer Relations Officer (FRO), drawing out the coffee supply chain it in the dirt to help the farmers understand the journey of their coffee.