Friday, August 13, 2010

Brief history of Coffee

Coffee stimulates the global economy, in more than one way, and has played an important role in the development of the capitalist production and conumption system.
Writing for, Nicki Lisa Cole provides a brief history of the production and consumption of coffee, highlighting that the grain has become a massive international business at the expense of slave labor, with this legacy still visible in the low wages paid to the industry's workers.

Cole reports that, "according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the U.S. is the world’s leading importer of coffee... with over 415 million cups of coffee drunk everyday. Brazil is the largest exporter, accounting for nearly a quarter of all exports. The second largest exporter is Vietnam, constituting 19.4%, followed by Colombia (9%) and Indonesia (8.7%). Peru, Honduras, India, and Guatemala each account for about 4%. Nicaragua and Costa Rica each contribute 1.5%".

Coffee's worldwide significance is evidenced by the fact that 75 million people depend on it to make a living, including pickers, farmers, roasters, exporters, wholesalers and shops as well as all the related intermediaries and services.

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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.