A Touching (and Inspiring) De–Commodification

Sunni's picture

One of my dearest dojo friends has launched a project that is simple and brilliant. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it’s based on her recognition that the marketplace is about relationships—and I for one am increasingly weary of how many of those relationships are with corporate entities that don’t seem to give a shit about much beyond profits and stockholder satisfaction.

I argued some time ago, in What Price Profits? [my word, that entry is over 5 years old!], that price had become an overemphasized element in much of our shopping in this country. If anything, I believe that more firmly today. As I mentioned above, the relationship aspect is increasingly important to me. I don’t need or want to be treated as if I’m a business’ only customer (a lie), but I deeply appreciate being shown that I am a valued customer. And I get extra satisfaction from knowing that my patronage helps in ways other than just profits for the company.

And that’s what Megan has delved into, in Rethink Coffee. Coffee is an enormous commodity. However, to be optimally cultivated, it requires a personalized level of attention and care. And those who give that care—as is the case with several crops—too often are last in line (if they even are in the line) when it comes to reaping the rewards of their labor. Megan has teamed up with Camano Island Coffee Roasters to help those who grow and harvest coffee beans, as well as others.

Camano Island Coffee Roasters (CICR) already supports Agros International, an organization whose mission is to address rural poverty in México and central America by helping farmers become land owners. Via Rethink Coffee, they will also contribute to whatever other charitable organization a person who joins their Coffee Lover’s Club wishes. Currently the listed affiliates, other than Agros, are local to northwest Washington, but that’s simply because that’s where Megan and CICR are located. Here are a few worthy causes I’ll have a hard time choosing from: Love146; Free the Slaves; Operation Smile; or Heifer International. Megan very generously gave me some CICR coffee to sample, and it’s good stuff. They roast to the customer’s specifications, and ship either roasted beans or ground roasted beans (again, whatever grind the customer wants) on a schedule that matches the customer’s need.

On the Rethink Coffee blog, Megan recently created a meme that resonates with me: being a prosumer. Even though I still do not have a lot of income, let alone disposable income, I have been moving toward being a more thoughtful, conscientious shopper. And I think it’s working out better for all involved. I hope you’ll consider joining the CICR Coffee Lover’s Club too, and help to turn one of the largest commodities in the world into a way to genuinely help individuals.

How can this work, Sunni...

...if I don't drink coffee?

Can I buy into this without the coffee? Can I "donate" my coffee to someone else (you, for example, or another person)?

I've often thought of 'joining up' with Heifer International (and there's another organization I've read about that distributed goats -- in South America, I think -- but I don't recall the name right now; it was in a region that wasn't conducive to raising bovines), but simply never stopped to do it.

That is a challenge.

I honestly don’t know if you can join but send the coffee to another person—but I bet you can. At the bottom of the affiliates page is Megan’s eddress; she’d be happy to answer your question and any others that might arise.

“Never stopped to do it ...”—yeah, that is me all over. I’m working on shifting out of that habit now.

ReThinking Coffee

Sunni, thank you for the lovely write up. I should have you write all the copy! You really captured the heart of what we're working toward.

To answer the question, you most certainly may have your coffee order delivered to someone else. When you order your coffee, just fill out the shipping address as that of your friend. Camano Island Coffee Roasters provides free shipping to Coffee Lover's Club members anywhere in the United States. I have a friend who has CICR ship her coffee order to a friend in another state. They always ship on the day of or one day after the coffee has been roasted, so it's very fresh.

Thank your for ReThinking your coffee!

Thanks...

for the info. I've sent you an email -- just ignore it.

Helping others to help themselves is a most worthwhile endeavor.

I like this ...

I don't have much to say about it, but the issues you raised here are things I've been thinking and reading about (Disposable People, Kevin Bales) too and I love it that there are people coming up with ways to empower laborers with markets and property. Yay for Rethink Coffee. Maybe they can do a spinoff someday for chocolate.

I'm a fan of Heifer International, too - a donation in someone's name (of a flock of chickens or a cow or llama) makes a great gift.

Capulin

Another coffee maker that takes care of their employees, by paying them twice the going rate, and of their customers, by sorting the coffee by hand instead of soaking it in water, is Capulin.com. Shade grown in the forests of Mexico. Expensive, but very very good. And, if you know where to get your Capulin Coffee Units, you can pay privately via loom.cc.