nick wrote:PF Podcast interview with the filmmakers next week (probably Monday)... what should I ask them? What's our community's message back to them?
Alistair Durie wrote:If starting again today with what you know now, what would be the film you'd make over?
The opening scene takes place in a cupping room, with Mané Alves describing an extraordinary Ethiopian Harar - everything that roasters are searching for. A great scene, yet it remained almost the only scene in the film that suggested that quality was the link to higher prices for the farmer. The specialty coffee industry was left behind while the film spun away vaguely into general world trade scenes. I was quite frustrated that the film did not concentrate, nor suggest any potential solutions for anyone.
nick wrote:I was telling MarkP tonight that though folks on this forum seem to be bemoaning the lack of focus on coffee (especially specialty-coffee), that the movie isn't really about coffee at all... it's about global trade, through one "case study" of the Oromia coffee co-op. I mean, "focus?" There's one part of the movie where the film appears to be about the inability for certain WBC Chairpersons to remember the names of certain Estonian Barista Champions (from memory, I believe her name was "Katy Kljukina," but I could be wrong ). But that's not what the movie was about either.
I've heard from folks that the last 30 mins or so the movie seems to "lose focus." That's a perspective that comes from a coffee-centric person... whereas I can see how the movie REALLY came together during those 30 minutes.
PaniniGuy wrote:Odd thing is, looking at the BBs and forums related to this movie, few people are up in arms over the Big 4 and most everyone it seems chooses to shoot arrows at SBUX instead. There's something wrong there.
Then again (without having seen it yet), I'm getting the impression this movie would not have been made without the seeming omnipresence of SBUX and its published core values as a convenient whipping boy.
nick wrote:I was, frankly, frustrated at the one graphic where they lumped Starbucks in with the Big Four conglomerates. That's not fair, and that's not cool. However... does anyone know? If the Big Four are 1-2-3-and-4, is Starbucks #5?
Peter G wrote:p.s. I will be at the CMU screening, doing a little talk. Rich, I'll see you there!
The film makers deny any malicious intent, but audience reaction makes it clear they succeeded in at least two things: making people feel guilty about buying Ethiopian coffee (unless it is Fair Trade), and ridiculing the specialty coffee industry. This is unfortunate. A barista competition might be an easy laugh for the uninitiated, but it is a small part of an important effort to educate the public about quality coffee.
Ethiopian coffee is among the very best the world has to offer. Read any specialty coffee publication or website where knowledgeable roasters and retailers write, and you will see how much excitement there is about the newest Sidamos, Harrars and Yrgacheffes. The baristas and shopkeepers that the film ridicules through artful editing are the very people who are the farmers' best hope for teaching the public about the true value of these coffees.
Ever-increasing quality and name recognition are Ethiopia's best hopes for future coffee prosperity. Hand-wringing guilt may, from time to time put a few more dollars in those farmers' hands, but not nearly as much as educated customers asking for Ethiopian coffees by name. If you doubt this, look at what your local specialty roaster charges for Kona and Jamaica Blue Mountain. No Fair Trade labels are needed to earn top dollar for those names, and Ethiopian coffees can be every bit their equals in quality.
When people go shopping and see a bag of Ethiopian coffee on the shelf, which idea is more likely to motivate them to buy it, a starving family or an astonishingly great cup of coffee? I think the latter.
The Ethiopians need technical guidance, better trade channels and good marketing. They don't need miscast scapegoats.
Peter G wrote: Also, the following :"I feel that Starbucks is obscuring their real buying practices with nice PR talk about social responsibility. If I have a conversation with a roaster and they claim Fairness of Trade, how do I know they are telling the truth?" Another good question, especially since (in my opinion) lots of roasters claim "their farmers" were well paid for the coffee when they may not really know.
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