The Fair Trade Winds team attended the world premiere of “Connected by Coffee” in April – a special event during the annual Fair Trade Federation conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. You, too, can now experience it by streaming/downloading the film at http://connectedbycoffee.com for $5.99 ($2 off the regular price — use code “FTW”, expires 6/30/14).
Here’s the trailer:
Whether or not you love coffee, we highly recommend this film by Stone Hut Studios. It is a fascinating, eye-opening, and intimate look at the lives of coffee farmers and their families in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and it certainly motivated us to promote the sale of fair trade coffee at our stores. The film proved that fair trade not only has a deep, lasting impact on farmers and the land on which they live and work, but the people-to-people relationships between coffee importers and farmers are very deep. As one of the farmers said in the film, “The more cups of coffee sold, the more social justice we have in our country.”
The film follows the journeys of Matt Earley from Just Coffee Cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin and Chris Treter from Higher Grounds Trading Co. in Traverse City, Michigan, as they travel to see their farmer cooperatives and partners. Matt and Chris have a very personal, familial relationship with the communities they visit–this strong bond and mutual respect is characteristic of fair trade coffee growers and importers.
The film also teaches some coffee basics, like the importance of clean water in coffee bean production, the effects of climate change, and the differences between sun coffee and shade grown coffee (slowly growing coffee cherries result in the best tasting beans!) Sun coffee is the most polluted and pesticide-laden commodity eaten by humans, besides tobacco. So, fair trade coffee is better for us and is better for the farmer’s land, too. The film also spent valuable time documenting the history of the land on which coffee grows. For some, warfare and human devastation occurred only decades ago.
Some cooperatives in Central America are also experiencing an unfortunate outbreak of “coffee rust.” This fungus attacks the leaves of the coffee plant and causes the plants to weaken and die. The filmmakers are donating 5% of proceeds from sales of the film to the four coffee cooperatives they featured to aid in coffee rust recovery—re-planting, organic fertilization, intensive organic training programs, food security garden projects, and other income-generating initiatives for the affected families.
Despite the coffee rust, the farmers stay positive (there is a great festive scene in the film, full of dancing and laughter!) They look forward to the future and will continue to work harmoniously with the land, knowing that their partners in the U.S. will keep on supporting them. “I can solve any problem for my family through coffee,” one farmer said.
After the film, we were able to ask questions and learn more from the filmmakers and producers with insight from Jonathan Rosenthal, the Executive Director of Cooperative Coffees. Matt Earley of Just Coffee Cooperative said it best: “We have the connection and obligation [to import coffee], but actually, we are all people in the same room.” Sometimes the work of importing coffee and dealing with obstacles along the way is overwhelming, but the farmer’s dedication to coffee and their land encourages everyone to keep on going.
Watch the film and take action by visiting http://connectedbycoffee.com/take-action. We hope that, like us, you will feel more connected to your morning cup of joe.
Look for the fair trade label on the coffee you buy at the grocery store, your favorite coffee shop, co-op, or fair trade store. Or use the Fair Trade Federation’s Store/Café finder to easily locate fair trade coffee near you!