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Coffee

Prehistoric rock art depicting Nabataen trading caravan—eighteenth century B.C.E. Photo Avi Horovitz
Spring 2015

Gentle commerce

From humankind’s long history of violence, two chapters have come under the scrutiny of Washington State University researchers that point the way to a more peaceful world.

Tim Kohler, who has spent four decades pondering the people of the ancient southwestern United States, saw violence drop in one sector of the region as its people took up a sort of “peaceful commerce” with other groups. And Jutta Tobias ’06 MS, ’08 PhD, after helping Rwandan coffee farmers use computers to broaden their customer base, found they eventually came to think more charitably about people with whom they had been in conflict during the brutal ethnic … » More …

Constant Coffee
Fall 2013

Constant Coffee

If there’s a liquid for which Olympia is more known than rain, it’s coffee.

With several roasters, and dozens of cafes, the community is pretty much fueled by caffeine.

Roaster Batdorf & Bronson arrived in the 1980s in the middle of the pack of Northwest coffee companies, some of which are now international names. While others have grown exponentially, even internationally, Larry Challain’s company has stayed constant—an Olympia presence, a craft roaster with carefully selected beans, and a community landmark.

From his childhood, Challain ’73 has vivid coffee memories. The smell of canned commissary coffee was a daily presence in his family kitchen. And the … » More …

Indaba founders Bobby Enslow ’06, ’08 and Ben Doornink ’07
Spring 2012

Indaba Coffee

Spokane’s Indaba Coffee is not your typical café. With a Zulu name that loosely means a gathering of tribal leaders to discuss important matters, the spot just north of the Spokane River is a resource for locals. The business has bulletin boards on the ceiling and space shared with a small nonprofit bookstore. It serves residents of the affordable housing project just upstairs as well as the attorneys who work at the county courthouse down the street.

It’s the lively atmosphere founder and owner Bobby Enslow ’06, ’08 MBA is trying to brew up. “This is a place where successful people can gather and … » More …

Winter 2004

Cutting out the middle, building income

Craig Meredith wants to help Ethiopian coffee farmers become competitive in a world market. He’s using his knowledge as an agricultural engineering to assist growers in Yirgacheffe in Southern Ethiopia’s Rift Valley,  where some 445,000 farmers produce premium arabica coffee beans.

“Ethiopian coffee is 60 percent of the nation’s gross national product,” says Meredith, a resident of Post Falls, Idaho. “It is the second-most-traded commodity in the world behind oil.” However, Ethiopian farmers are some of the world’s poorest in a country where the per capita income is $100 per year, according to the office of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Meredith got involved … » More …

Spring 2009

Jason Ambrose ’99 – Counting beans in Costa Rica

Jason Ambrose learned to drink coffee as a college freshman. “Then it was more about function than flavor,” he admits.

These days, Ambrose starts his morning with a French press. He heats milk for his son Jackson, who is not yet two, and water enough to make two big mugs of Ethiopian-grown coffee for himself and his wife Julie (Dertinger, ’94).

It’s a far cry from the cafeteria cups he first sampled back at WSU, he says.

Moving to Seattle after graduating from Washington State University in 1999, Ambrose couldn’t help but get caught up in the coffee culture. Today the 33-year-old Starbucks employee has … » More …

Spring 2009

Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival

About twelve years ago, I drank my first cup of fair trade coffee. I didn’t spend much time thinking about the implications—it just seemed like a decent idea to pay farmers a good price for their product.  But even the simple assumption that a fair trade or organic label guarantees farmers a better income or life can be questioned. Do farmers actually receive extra profit? Are they more successful than conventional producers? Do the labels mean anything to them? In Brewing Justice, Washington State University sociologist Daniel Jaffee explores those questions, and other complications of fair trade and organic coffee production, through the experiences of … » More …