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November | December 2017
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Interaction or isolation? These polarities represent a series of required choices, conscious or not, that each of us makes every day.
Do we engage, constructively or destructively, with people and groups whose opinions, ways of life or policies run counter to our own? Or do we chose to isolate those groups—and thereby, ourselves?
Working in the coffee business, these choices are made by everyone from baristas to roasters to green coffee buyers to consumers. Everyone in the chain makes an impact on a global scale, and the choices are not easy. A casual walk down any grocery store coffee aisle or a read-through of a retail shop menu board reveals a host of origin countries with past, present and future governmental, social and human rights problems. Most often, the decision to interact with a particular farmer or exporter in these countries is not based on the social issues within that country, but rather on the merits of the coffee or the farmer.
I applaud the recent decision by the Specialty Coffee Association to appoint a review panel to discuss the issue of hosting World Coffee Events world championships in Dubai in 2018. The immediate and visible goal of the panel is to provide guidance on whether or not to host events in Dubai. I believe an equally critical outcome of this process will be the development of guiding principles to both review all event location selections and inform future choices around deliberate interaction or reasoned isolation. Whether it’s interaction with individuals, groups and governments in countries such as Myanmar, Yemen, Burundi or even the United States, the principles should be established and communicated.
Roast is a media partner of the International Coffee & Tea Festival in Dubai. We believe that more can be gained and positive influence can be had by interacting with individuals across the globe. Although we are not pulling our media partnership of this event, we will be instituting a process and guidelines for evaluating future partnerships and interactions, both within the United States and globally. Our direction will always lean toward interaction; however, that policy cannot be absolute. As the old proverb goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight times.” We must continue to always evaluate and improve ourselves.