Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Coffee Festival Adventures

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I went to the Everything 4 Coffee & Tea Festival. It was a pretty small conference, but still just the right size to keep us interested. I felt a little bad because we were just there as a result of some free tickets that I got from Citarella. Everyone kept asking us, "So, are you in the industry? Are you a buyer?" And we're like "Um, no. We just like coffee." Plus we wanted the free stuff.

There were some pretty interesting presenters, including Janet from Jalima coffee. My friend and I got to talking to her and she told us her whole story. She was traveling with two friends down in Mexico for a birthday trip and they met some coffee growers. Janet and her friends were all at points in their lives where they were in between careers. While they were down there, they kept having the most perfect cups of coffee in brightly colored ceramic mugs. Soon, they got into partnership with some coffee growers down in Mexico and their very socially responsible business was born out of a combination of all their names: Janet, Libe and Marcella. Their coffee is sold in a bunch of places and they travel down to Mexico all the time to check out their beans.

Wow. I was impressed listening to Janet tell her story. These women get to have their own business and they get to travel to Mexico of all places. Coffee plantations are always in the most exotic and romantic sounding places -- Sumatra, Costa Rica, Kona... And who could forget Meryl Streep on that coffee plantation in Kenya in Out of Africa? Granted, Meryl Streep seemed kind of lonely from what I barely remember about that movie. But I was already picturing myself living the coffee plantation lifestyle. I'm down in Mexico, wearing my hand-knitted brightly patterned poncho, sitting in a gazebo on top of a hill with the Aztec pyramids in the background, and my coffee fields below me with the ocean in the distance. Then I'd pick up my genuine Mexican handmade ceramic mug and sip my piping hot cup of fine Mexican coffee. Of course, I could never drink too much because I'm VERY sensitive to caffeine. One cup will put me over the edge. I seriously get crazy. I remember one time I drank three espressos for some reason and then called a friend and left this crazy voicemail. Later on, my friend played back my message, and I was horrified. I sounded like some strung out E junkie who needed his next fix.

We also met this weird Amish guy who was selling his mint tea from mint grown on his farm. This guy sure was busy back home. He was 28 years old and already had four kids and some grey hair at his temples. He kept us there forever, just talking our ears off. He seemed to be fascinated with meeting actual natives of New York. He literally was like that Amish guy on that TV show that moves into the city and gets corrupted by the bright lights and city life.

This guy just kept talking and talking, and we were trying to walk away. But he had us cornered. He started to ask us where we were from. I said "We're from New York." We talk for a few more minutes, and then this guy goes "Where are you really from?" And we were like, "Oh originally?" My friend said, "Canada", and I said "Virginia." Then he goes, "Well, I mean, you don't look alike. Where are you REALLY from?" My friend and I looked at each other and were like, "Oh geez. What a freak." My friend who's Indian indulged him and said "My parents are from India." And I said, "My parents are from Korea." Luckily, this guy had encountered some folks who weren't really offended and were willing to indulge him. But I hope someone eventually made him learn that you don't really ask those types of questions. Plus I was willing to forgive him since he gave me two boxes of free tea.

I finally left the festival loaded with free coffee and tea and wired for the rest of the day. I got a glimpse of a lifestyle that I might want to adopt and one that I definitely do not.


Kristy said...

You're much nicer than me. I would have kept on telling him I was from Virginia. That's where you're from! Just goes to show you that you really can shelter your kids too much.

marshmallow said...

where are you 'really' from? your mother's womb, of course. just like everyone else. what a freak.