The World in a Cup: Coffee and Globalization

October 17, 2011
By: WSU News

James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D., a professor of geography at Bridgewater State University, spoke to students and faculty about coffee and globalization Wednesday, October 12 in the North South Auditorium. The lecture, “The World in a Cup: Coffee and Globalization,” was part of the Theme Semester Series and was based on Hayes-Bohanan’s studies with the coffee industry in countries such as Nicaragua and Ethiopia.

After researching coffee and its industry for over 12 years, Hayes-Bohanan decided to make regular trips to Nicaragua with his classes and family to learn more about the process of producing coffee and how it is dealt with in the fair-trade market. With the in-depth data he was gathering, Hayes-Bohanan decided to teach classes on coffee and globalization. “I use coffee to teach geography and geography to teach coffee,” he stated.

Hayes-Bohanan lectured on where coffee originated, which is Ethiopia, and how it spread across the globe so quickly. Ethiopia once was the only place on earth where coffee grew naturally. This is because of the hot climate and rainy seasons of the country. Since the globalization of coffee, it is now grown in Latin America, the tropics, Indonesia, Africa and India. All of these places are near the equator and do not have frost or cold seasons.

Hayes-Bohanan eventually decided to take his knowledge to small-growing industries in third-world countries and teach them about the fair-trade market. Many farmers he encountered did not know what coffee was worth, or how to completely produce coffee to its final stage of roasting. Hayes-Bohanan hopes, by teaching these farmers about fair trade and coffee pricings, the “coyotes” of their towns will stop taking advantage of them and they will stop losing massive amounts of money. He also works with fair-trade farm communities on programs called Coffee Kids and Grounds for Hope that support education in coffee-growing communities within the fair-trade market.

Written by Chelsea Tougas ’12, a communication major, president of WSU’s Omega Psi chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, student worker in the Student Affairs Office, and intern with the WSU Public Relations and Marketing Office.

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