The final group of coffee people that helped to teach and encourage me in Antigua were two green coffee buyers, Laura from 49th Parallel, and Kevin from Saint Frank. Green coffee buying has always been a career path I was intrigued by because it ensures that the café buying and roasting the coffee is in personal contact with the farms that are responsible for growing it. Instead of buying green coffee from a third party distributor, directly sourcing farm to cup allows a café to personally know the names and faces of the people involved. It allows the buyer to be learning from the farmer as well as giving advice on how to make the coffee quality better. The better the coffee quality, the higher price they can charge allowing them a better quality of life.
I remember Laura specifically mentioning on the second night there, that for her, coffee has always been about the people involved. She is committed to supporting the farms that she works with every year even if they get hit hard with leaf rust (common coffee fungus) or frost. They may buy a smaller portion, and use it in a blend, but they want to ensure the farmer that they will constantly be there for them through good and bad crop years. As a green coffee buyer you have a responsibility to care for the farmer as well as portray their hard work to those drinking their delicious coffee.
Kevin had a similar worldview. As an owner of Saint Frank, he doesn’t need to source coffee himself, but chooses to travel away from his family in order to ensure he maintains these vital relationships with the farmers. I also was able to speak directly with him about his decision to open up his own cafe, and he expressed his heart and love for creating a place for relationships to develop. It encouraged me at Temple to desire the same loving interactions and relationships.
As a barista, I may only get this opportunity to travel to origin and meet these beautiful people once. So it is then my responsibility to take all of the knowledge that I have learned and use it to not only educate but care for our customers. I imagine all the beautiful people I met, whose life for some reason intersected with mine, and how thankful I am for their love, encouragement, and willingness to teach me. I hope as your barista, you feel the same care and love through our interactions as we grow in coffee together. And if you ever see me at our S street location, introduce yourself, and I can tell you some more stories from my time in Antigua, Guatemala!