As I reflect on my trip to the coffee farm in Colombia and my tracing of one specialty coffee chain from rural Colombia to Bogota to New York there are a few things that stick out. The first being the vast knowledge of and dedication to the product at every part of the chain. Even as I tried to enter my trip with a clean slate so to speak my preconceptions quickly became misconceptions. While of course I knew that farmers had a specific knowledge of agriculture and the ecological and environmental sides of coffee that the rest of the chain lacked in the same intuitive way, I assumed that their knowledge of what makes a quality cup would be lacking and I was humbled in my findings to the contrary. The farmers, some drinking up to 20 cups per day, would sit back and chat cupping scores (a number 1-100 based on coffee quality) and rate each other’s coffee. In this arena, too, they outshone me in knowledge.
Another aspect of my trip that I continue to think about is the inequality between farmer and exporter and farmer and roaster. While it is common knowledge that there is an inequality of wealth in these relationships I was interested in an observing an inequality in information. As the center of the chain, the exporter and the roaster have the greatest access to information about every other part of the chain while I found the end points (farm and café) to be less informed about both each other and the other parts of the chain. I hope to explore some of the implications of this in my paper.