Thursday, September 25, 2008


Stumptown Cupping

I like to be hipster about things. I like to turn up my nose at the grotesque humanitary practices of places like Walmart that reach from the local single mom pulling the night shift even though they're screwing her out of healthcare benefits to the children in the sweatshops that most of the products there come from. I want to proclaim "I'd rather DIE than drink at Starbucks" or take the time to learn the history about all the places I shop at so that not a single penny of mine inadvertently goes to supporting the KKK.

The truth of the matter though is that I shop at Target who, while doing great things in the local communities, are probably owned by the same people who own every other big box store and probably buy their products from sweatshops, but only the ones that don't use children.

The truth of the matter is, I sometimes drink starbucks because they ARE on every corner and I'm a lazy fuck sometimes and don't want to go wandering all over the city looking for a not-starbucks who may or may not have decent coffee.

The truth of the matter is I'd only shop organic, local, fresh, raw, free-range, no-additives, majik fairy food and produce if I made about $1000 more a month and had 6 hours a day I could dedicate to cooking from scratch. But I don't.

And I feel bad about it. I WANT to be able to support my local community, my friends and neighbors, the small farmers. I WANT to support places that support their suppliers, that take care of their workers, that offer above minimum wages to the people who grow, create and produce the things I buy and use. But sometimes it's just hard not to lose sight of how closely we are all connected. So then I drunkenly make the taxi driver swing by taco bell on my way home. *sigh*

Emily suggested we check out a cupping that was happening at Stumptown. Stumptown, for those of you living in a small cave with bats (or from out of town) could best be described as a minimalist version of Starbucks with an eye solidly on the bigger picture. Cuppings are essentially wine tasting but for coffee. I'm already a coffee snob of the 8th degree (this is about the level where even with a hangover you will actually turn down a bad cup of coffee or get up and leave to a different restaurant if someone says 'it's not so bad if you put in a lot of sugar') so this was especially up my alley.

The biggest draw of the evening though was that they were going to be doing a cupping with single origin coffees from Costa Rica. (Em and I spent a lot of time in CR so anything 'tico' has a special place in our hearts). The large majority of coffees available are blends, meaning that the beans in that particular coffee come from more than one farm, region or even country. These beans were all from their own micro-farms and the people who own and work these farms were present to talk about their places and processes. It was pretty amazing and for the first time in a long time I felt like I truly didn't mind paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee. It was exciting to see how people who are (insanely) committed to and excited about coffee can make a difference by treating everyone who has a hand in the process with respect and value for their part.


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