Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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HIKING BOOTS? CHECK. BUG SPRAY? Check. Sunglasses and sun- screen? Double check. List of "what not to do when you're traveling at origin?" Um … Don't worry, we've got you covered: Whether it's your fi rst, fourth, or 400th time traveling for coffee, it's not always obvious what behaviors might be con- sidered rude or questionable, and which are totally aboveboard. We hope that after you read these tips and tricks from experienced trip leaders, producer hosts, and traveling coffee professionals, you'll feel ready to step into the fi eld and build respectful, mutually rewarding, and potentially long-lasting relationships all along the supply chain. KNOW SOME BASIC LOCAL CUSTOMS Avoiding farm faux pas is relatively easy once you have a bit of context, but for novice travelers or those headed to a brand-new region, that context and the local culture or customs can be somewhat diffi cult to learn before- hand. Contemporary guidebooks and comprehensive tourism websites often mention general "do"s and "don't"s, but because they're typically geared toward more mainstream travelers, they often focus on urban social customs and norms rather than those found in rural or agrarian communities where coffee is commonly grown. For that reason, more research might be necessary, and you can even turn to this resource you're holding. The "Field Reports" found in every issue of Barista Magazine describe various types of coffee travel done by industry professionals, either for sourcing pur- poses, exploration, personal profes- sional development and education, or relationship maintenance. For instance, one thing that travelers overlook is whether their normal street or work clothes will be appropriate for the kind of travel that coffee often re- quires. Wearing ripped jeans, open-toed shoes, or even certain types of tank tops can be considered rude or even immod- est in some places. "Without prescribing a dress code, I would still suggest that people be mind- ful of local cultural norms—despite the fact that I think most producers would probably say it doesn't matter to them because they understand our cultures are different," says SCA Sustainability Director Kim Elena Ionescu (who, for the record, was one of the leaders on the author's fi rst trip to a coffee coun- try). "It removes one potential obstacle, however minor, to building trust. That's always been an overarching objective of origin trips for me, regardless of whether I'm traveling as a coffee buyer, educator, or observer, because I'm always there to learn from the people who live in the places I'm visiting." KJ Yeung of Café Editora, who works with International Coffee Week on special projects and has hosted countless trips to origin, offers a bit more concrete advice when it comes to packing that Here are some things you might try to glean, either from research or from simply asking questions of your trip leaders and other experienced travelers, about local customs and norms: Greetings: Do people tend to greet each other a certain way, such as with a handshake or a specifi c phrase? In some cultures, kissing on the cheek or hugging is typical even upon fi rst meeting. Religious customs: Coffee-producing regions are as religiously diverse as anywhere else in the world, but the customs and practices where you're visit- ing might be different than they are where you're from. It is helpful to know whether certain days are set aside for worship, or whether certain behav- iors are encouraged or frowned upon by the most common local spiritual or religious faiths. In some cases, asking questions about religious practices is acceptable when done appropriately, but in general it is advisable to avoid venturing into such personal territory—especially if you've just met. Toilets and bathroom etiquette: This might seem in- delicate, but it's good to know before you go. Plumbing can be somewhat sensitive in rural areas, and often it is requested (or implied) that guests will refrain from putting paper of any sort into toilets. In some areas, toilets might be fl ushed using water poured from buck- ets, and hands might be washed with water collected in cisterns. If you're unsure what to do or feel squeamish or shy, feel free to discreetly ask your trip leader or coordinator for guidance. (Trust us, if they've led many trips before, they've probably seen and heard worse than what you're asking.) BEFORE YOU GO … 62 barista magazine

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