While we’re on the subject of Intelligentsia, a big Congratulations to Michael Phillips, who was crowned the 2010 World Barista Champion last month in London. Phillips lives in Chicago and works at Intelli as the Director of Education, where he oversees the training of all the other fantastic baristas in their ranks.
It’s because of this fine company, the coffee they roast and the baristas who make it, that I love coffee so much. Before I wandered into their Broadway cafe one cold winter day in Chicago, I thought the only good thing about coffee was the caffeine. But the shot pulled for me that afternoon opened my eyes to the amazing world of specialty coffee that I was completely unaware of until then. So thank you, and keep up the fantastic work!
I recently watched Black Gold, a documentary about the global coffee trade and it left me feeling enlighted and guilty as hell. Anyone who drinks coffee should see it(while remembering most documentaries show a specific perspective). It focuses on a co-op in Ethiopia and highlights the staggering facts regarding coffee trade and the ridiculously low pay farmers get for their coffee. Even with Fair Trade certification, the contrast in price is obscene.
While I believe direct trade is the best way forward, the number of roasters who acquire their coffee this way is limited, so Fair Trade is the best widespread option available until things change. Intelligentsia (one of my favorite roasters) has trademarked the term “direct trade” and pays their growers 25% more than Fair Trade prices. I’m willing to pay extra for good coffee, especially if I know it’s improving the lives of the farmers who work their asses off to give me something I love so much.