I've been on a bit of a coffee high since my visit to Broadway Coffee in Salem, OR. I squealed and gushed and generally made an idiot of myself but have had some pretty awesome coffee over the past week.
Rather than wonder if coffee is one of those "excesses" that I am trying to strip away, I'm embracing the love and I've even found a legitimate reason to do so.
The beauty of coffee is that it is not just a delicious, mysterious, and often capricious muse for dorks like me. Green (unroasted) coffee is also a valuable export for many of the poorest countries in the world: Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, El Salvador and, yes, Haiti. While this could potentially be a good thing, it is important for people to work as advocates on behalf of coffee growers, especially those in poorer nations, to ensure they are not being exploited.
Fair Trade coffee was a step in the right direction but the label can be very misleading. "Fair" is a relative term and there are always gray areas, that is to say, just because something is stamped "Fair Trade" doesn't mean the farmers who grew and harvested that coffee are being fairly compensated.
This is why people like Land of 1000 Hills Coffee make me really happy. I don't know anything about the coffee market so it is important that I trust the people buying and roasting the coffee that I buy. 1000 Hills Coffee is as close to the plantation as I've been able to get (so far!). Up until the last year, their efforts have focused primarily on Rwandan coffee but they've recently started selling coffee from Haiti as well. After much anticipation, I received my first bag of Cafe Marmelade Haitian Bleu today!
Now, as I understand it, Haiti has been exporting coffee for some time but it has never been known for being exceptionally great coffee. Good, not great. But I am encouraged that there are people out there who believe in Haitian coffee and who are dedicated to refining growing and harvesting processes and promoting Haiti as a legitimate source of gourmet coffee. Various web-rabbit-trails have yielded the following organizations:
***Please note: I know very little about these people aside from the fact that they sell coffee and some of it is from Haiti. In fact, if you can offer any experience or insight, it is most welcome!
Eco Cafe Haiti via Clive Coffee (I'm definitely visiting Clive the next time I am in Portland!)
La Colombe also sells a Haitian Coffee