Home > Haiti > Coffee: A Story

This is a guest blog by Kyle Ibsen who is giving leadership to our new initiative in Haiti.

coffee beanI am a seed. To some I bring alertness and clarity. To others I am a way of life. This is my story.

Zimbabwe coffee growingIt all started in a warm place. Somewhere where the rain falls heavy and the sun shines all year round. It began in calloused hands as I was placed in a small plastic bag with some red earth and a little bit of water. Over time I began to change, as the farmer faithfully tended to me day by day. I began to grow under his care. Delicate leaves began to sprout from me, struggling to push through the heavy dirt stretching for the sun that trickled through the shade leaves. Then I saw his smile. I could tell that this small step for me would mean something significant to him.

bean farmerTime passed, seasons changed. Soon I grew big enough that my farmer pulled me out of my old plastic sack. He gave me a home. Somewhere to spread my roots and grow strong. He put me with others like me, under the shade of some very big trees, and there I grew indeed. It wasn’t easy for me. Sometimes the rain would fall hard and the winds were violent. Tearing, shredding at my leaves and uprooting my neighbours. Sometimes the rains wouldn’t come at all.

The farm of James Chirwa (not present), in the Lukalazi Zone, coffee growing region, Malawi. Farmer: Peter BandaAll the while, my farmer cared. He pruned me, and fed me. Sometimes I think it was hard for him. Sometimes, I noticed, he didn’t eat. When he looked at me, though, he smiled.

smiling basket beans guyOne day, I had a gift for him. I felt his familiar hands caressing my leaves. That he sang as he tended to me, plucking ripe red cherries from my branches; that’s how I knew he was happy with my gift. I felt important; like I was part of something bigger, something that would make a difference.

Hands of Coffee Worker Holding Beans

Hands of Coffee Worker Holding Beans

That feeling faded quickly, however, for then I changed hands. A part of me stayed in the care of my farmer’s warm, calloused hands. A new part of me was passed on to a new set of hands. These hands felt colder. They felt smoother, almost uncaring. In these hands I felt like a commodity, nothing more. When I left in these hands, my farmer seemed to be sad. It was almost like my gift, in these new hands, wasn’t worth as much as he had hoped.

just beansThen I changed hands again…and again…and again. Each time I was altered a little. My outer shell was stripped from me exposing my seed again. I was washed, dried, and raked over the hot ground. Sometimes I felt the care of the hands I was in, like I would mean something again. One day I would find my purpose.

roasterThat day came when I felt the warmth of new caring hands. These hands too were calloused. They refined me even more. They put me through fire, and I came out the other side feeling new with so much to give. From these hands I was passed on to another set of hands. These hands were smoother, but equally as attentive. In these hands I was measured meticulously, ground, and immersed in water again. This time, when I emerged I was different.

baristaI had reached my potential in a final set of hands. These hands, like my farmer’s, caressed the cup that I was now contained in. As the wearer of these hands inhaled my new aroma, a smile broke out on their face. This is when I knew I had made it. I felt loved, and cared for again. I felt appreciated much like my farmer appreciated me. I felt a sense of purpose, much like what I felt back on the farm. In these hands I felt connected; connected to all of the hands that I had passed through. In a very real way I felt a connection to my roots…my farmer…my home. This is my purpose. Connection. Community. A love of something that joins hands across this world. My purpose realized through earth, water, fire, and blood.mug