Jul 162013

“I can do anything, with a good cup of coffee” – by Alyse Carter

While you are enjoying your cup of coffee, I’d like to take a minute to ask you to reflect on the state of the world.

If you stop and really think about it, you might get a little depressed. We are constantly hearing how bad things are. Disease, violence, weather, economics, civil rights…. I don’t blame you if you’d rather just quietly sit and enjoy your coffee, and be satisfied with the conclusion that in this peaceful and serene moment, there isn’t anything you can do about any of that stuff. Of course you care, but what can you do? There’s so much media, politics, and debate, it’s easier to just tune it all out and enjoy your coffee.

Well, I have some news that might surprise you: You are making a difference right now. You’re drinking Dawn Chorus Coffee. You might be surprised to learn just how much those tasty coffee beans do.

Take another sip. It’s delicious, isn’t it? Robust, flavorful, earthy. I’m no coffee expert, but I know a great cup of coffee when I taste one. And this is truly a great cup of coffee, in more ways than one.

Let me introduce you to a man named Constantine, who is a coffee enthusiast. He is the definition of a coffee afficionado. He has been having a cup or three of Dawn Chorus Coffee every morning since he first created it. But unlike you or me, he rarely sits down and enjoys it. He is too busy trying to make his coffee do more than just taste good. Let’s start with the beans:

Dawn chorus coffee beans are fair trade, organic, and shade-grown. This particular coffee is also certified by the “Cafe Femenino” organization, which ensures living-wage jobs and works to create education and better living conditions for women in coffee countries. Pretty awesome, right? Next, the production:
The coffee is custom-roasted by a local coffee roaster. Why wouldn’t Constantine roast it himself? Because by working with someone who already has a coffee roasting production system, he can help develop sustainable economic growth. Instead of competing with this neighbor, he reached out to them and worked out an arrangement where he can pay them to roast his coffee to his specifications. This means more profit for the other roaster, and a lower footprint for the combined operation. He chooses to package his coffee in bags that are made of compostable paper, and boxes and equipment used in the production process are upcycled or re-purposed, rather than purchased new, whenever possible. The coffee is only sold at locally owned stores, or stores that work to embrace local economies and put money back into the community. He writes his story, explains his plans, and talks to any and everyone about his products, and the reasons why it’s worth it to pay a bit more for Dawn Chorus Coffee. Speaking of money, let’s move on to the profit:

Your hard-earned cash, which you gave up for this cup of coffee, returns money to the coffee countries to support better environmental and social practices. It increases profit at partner businesses and restaurants. It allows Constantine to train and hire employees for his company. These employees will have an enjoyable living-wage job, meanwhile being able to make their small efforts go even further. They won’t just package coffee, they will create communications, network with local businesses, develop educational re-skilling programs, work on other collaborative projects that benefit the community, and learn many, many new things. If they ever leave Athens, they will take their knowledge of how to enact the most positive change from the smallest opportunity, and teach others. They are the smart, community-minded citizens of Athens, thanks to your cup of coffee. And coffee is only one product that Constantine sells. And Constantine’s products are only some of the many that Athens’ Own distributes…

So while the coffee itself has its own benefits, the action of getting it into your hands has even more.

One person with a vision and an idea can have a huge effect on not just this community, but the world. Small actions can be one significant step towards big solutions. It starts when we stop talking about a problem, and start doing something about it, even if that something is as simple as enjoying a nice cup of coffee.


  4 Responses to “A good cup of coffee”

  1. I am wondering if Dawn Chorus Coffee could explore earning the “Bird Friendly” Certification (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/making-sense-of-coffee-labels-shade-grown-organic-fair-trade-bird-friendl/). Though shade grown is a good start, it does not guarantee that the coffee farm provides suitable habitat for overwintering warblers and other songbirds.

    I love Athens Own and your coffee and it would be great to know that my purchase of Dawn Chorus coffee not only supports social justice but also helps declining bird populations like the wood thrush recover.

    Thanks so much.


    • Joseph, my apologies for not replying to you sooner. An in depth answer is forthcoming.

      Constantine, Sounds great, thanks very much for taking the time to reply.

      Joseph, FYI, SMBC Bird Friendly Guatemalan Atitlan, then Huehuetenango are the very first coffees we had roasted, and have not been able to source green SMBC Guat or Peruvian since.
      If I am correct, Athens local Marc Cohen used to inspect for SMBC. He also managed the Beliz Agroforestry Research Center.

      Thanks, Constantine. What does SMBC stand for? I wonder why you have not been able to source those bird friendly coffees since?

    • Joseph,
      – SMBC = Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
      – Increasing rarity
      – Plantations choosing other directions
      – Increasing certification choices to the farmers
      – Up and down standards and having their acts together of the certifying bodies
      …..just to name a few

  2. Alyse’s article does an excellent job of explaining Athens’ Own holistic goal through a current, real world example: using available resources first, empowering the otherwise impoverished, working with neighbors (instead of competing), using sustainable practices for resources (compostable bags, upcycling boxes), reducing its carbon footprint, increasing community resilience, and putting money back into the community. This article paints such a good picture of what Athens’ Own is about, it could almost go on the homepage.

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