Does your cup of coffee wake you up in the morning, bring you peace, and make you think about where your food comes from? Caffeinated: Every Cup of Coffee Has a Story is a documentary that will make you consider the social and ethical landscape of coffee production. With visually stunning images of the country and people, filmmakers Vishal Solanki and Hanh Nguyen trace the social story of coffee from bean to brew, making us reflect and consider the coffee bean farmers in South America. Solanki and Nguyen team up with Geoff Watts, Vice President of Intelligentsia Coffee and a famous green buyer, to interview an array of coffee farmers, roasters, consumers, baristas and coffee tasters, and movie star Danny Glover.
Most of us love our morning cup of coffee because of the aromatic experience. We smell the beans and taste the coffee, and, of course, we like that it is a stimulant. Coffee is an addiction to many, but it also is part of our social fabric as a communal ritual dating back to Ethiopia. In the coffee ceremony an influential woman in the community brews coffee for her family and friends. Filmakers Solanki nad Nguyen take us through this history of coffee from Ethiopia to modern Italian and American espresso and coffeehouses. They suggest that we are now turning to a less commercialized approach to coffee and a more sustainable and individual take on production.
Through two visits, one to a farm in Huehuetenango ,Guatemala and one to a farm run by women in Jinotega, Nicaragua, the filmmakers take us through the whole experience of coffee production. We learn that many hands touch and handle the beans that make that great tasting cup of coffee. Farming families pick the cherries off the coffee plant sorting out overripe and under ripe cherries. The farmers sell their cherries by weight. Someone then de-pulps the skin off and scrubs the beans before they then go through a 27-32 hour fermentation process. Then they dry in the tropical sun on cement patios. Finally, someone takes their shells off leaving a green colored bean, which is now ready to be sold to roasters. Ironically, Guatemala grows some of the best coffee in the world, but Guatemalans don’t get to enjoy their coffee because most of the best beans get exported to roasters.
Moreno Faina, Head of Universita Del Caffe Illy Coffee, explains that the quality of the bean is fifty percent the bean itself and fifty percent technique. Our filmmakers then take us through the art of roasting coffee beans, the techniques of the barista, tasting the brew and learning the universal language of coffee. They interview Sunalini Menon from India who has practiced the science of cupping or tasting and evaluating coffee for over twenty years. We learn that there is even a Coffee Cup of Excellence Award rewarding farmers for the quality of their beans with internet exposure and financial compensation. In candid testimonials, Geoff Watts, famous green buyer, and Susie Spindler, Co-founder of the Cup of Excellence competition urge consumers to pay attention and vote with their wallets.
This documentary ends with the story of Sustainable Harvest International, which promotes sustainability by connecting growers, roasters, and buyers. Their work in Jinotega, Nicaragua inspires us with the story of Las Hermanas, translated as the sisters, a group of women farmers who have empowered each other and their community through coffee growing. Through education and empowerment, they have lifted their community economically, emotionally and physically. You’ll want to go out and purchase Peet’s Coffee after hearing this story and realizing that they endorse Las Hermanas and sell the beans of these Nicaraguan women.
For a heartfelt history of coffee production from farming the bean to brewing the cup, Caffeinated: Every Cup of Coffee Has a Story will make you think about the sustainability and ethics of your individual cup of coffee. You may even awaken your senses to the deeper world around you and the complexities that we face between agriculture and consumerism. This documentary is 80 minutes long and available on iTunes, Amazon, googleplay, Xbox, vudu and all major cable providers including Time Warner, Comcast, directv and more.
Please note that this review was based upon a free web showing of the movie we received from Caffeinated: Every Cup of Coffee Has a Story‘s public relations firm.