Coffee is just coffe.
Nothing could be more wrong than this.
Let me tell you a story…
There is a woman named Marlene. She comes from Colombia. She travels to Greece where she found love: Dimitri. They travel back to Colombia together.
Why am I telling you this story?
Once in Colombia, in Garzón in the Huila prefecture, Dimitri found out that being sorrounded by coffee trees could be more than just a hobby. It can be the reason to live.
This is how the story of Dimitrios Christopoulos – the only Greek coffee grower in the world – began.
Dimitri reveals the bitter truth behind working in plantation: twelve hours, from dawn till dusk, under rain and with wind, covered in dust, sweating and he swears that people don’t really get how much sweat and sacrifice lies behind a coffee cup.
He managed not only to make his hobby into a profitable work but now he became so dedicated at improving the coffee worker’s life that he started an educational programe.
He is training local farmers to produce high quality beans. He became such an important member of the local community that he has been named “El Patron”.
But reality is bittersweet: on one hand he is helping people to improve their life conditions, on the other hand buyers underpay the green coffee beans produced.
This is even more frustrating as the region Garzon is a place where the best coffee beans are grown and produced.
With coffee price falling from year to year people in producer’s countries are now striving to live.
“Multinational companies are striving to buy the product at very low prices and sell high… They want Colombians to remain slaves because some want to make lots of money,” he reported at news website The Greek Reporter
Dimitri is trying to shorten the coffee chain: creating a cooperative that will sell coffee directly to foreign markets instead of having the middle-step of multinational companies and middlemen. Coffee difficulties are not only made by big size companies that try to make money from local communities. There is also the big impact of climate change.
Coffee is a good that we give for granted, tending to see it as always available.
The truth is that coffee will suffer a major change due to the impact of climate and the natural outcomes of soil exploitation, a significant rise in temperature and a change in the soil composition.
Diversifying farms could be a first small step to improve the coffee production.
This is only the first “episode” of a deeper research. We MUST be aware and remember that behind every coffee cup there are human beings. People working hard and together as to get you the best product, trying to make something to be proud of, to be an added value for farmers, producers and consumers. Something that will highlight our environment instead of exploiting it only.
I want to thank Mr. Dimitri Christopoulos for his availability to narrate, even in few words, his amazing job in Colombia.
Here you can find the video shoot in his village showing an “ordinary day” in the life of a coffee grower.