Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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suitcase: "When deciding what to wear in a coffee farm, we should be pragmat- ic. 'Showing skin' is not [a good idea] not only because of decency, but mostly because it is the best way to protect yourself against natural annoyances [such] as mosquitoes and other insects. Be comfortable—pants, a good pair of trekking boots, hats—but it is not a wildlife exploration trip: Half of the time spent in the farm is inside the lab or offi ce, cupping coffees and talking about the history of the farm and region, coffees and/or discussing the post-harvest processing." TIME AND PUNCTUALITY Naturally it's always important—no matter where you are or who you're with—to respect other people's time. This is also very true on visits to coffee farms or mills, where you're very like- ly to be invited in to observe folks who are doing their actual jobs. KJ says, "One must not forget that as fun and wild as the trip may get, we are entering a person's home or 'offi ce,' their working place." (If that doesn't hammer the point home, just imagine what it would be like if a group of tour- ists came and stood around you while you were roasting coffee, or writing emails at your desk.) It's also always a good idea to remain somewhat fl exible about a schedule or itinerary, and to be patient with hosts and trip leaders when plans change or things don't go according to schedule. "There's rarely enough time to do everything a traveler would like to do, especially given the unpredictability of transportation in rural, mountainous communities—sometimes a landslide leaves you with a choice between driving four hours to fi nd an alternate route or getting out of the car and spending two hours clearing a land- slide," says Kim Elena. "Changes to or delays in a traveler's schedule can feel really frustrating and unfair, like, 'Are you kidding me?! I've come 7,000 miles and I only have three days in this place and I'm stuck waiting for this person who is two hours late!?' But imposing and trying to adhere to a strict agenda will not serve the relationship." To this same point, however, while some cultures tend to be more relaxed about schedules and appointments, it's a good rule of thumb to show up when you've said you'll show up, and even to offer an end time to a meeting or visit in order to give a producer an idea of what to expect. Most producers won't look at the clock and say, "Well, I guess I should be getting back to work," so try to be mindful of how much of their day you are taking up. TABLE MANNERS It seems that coffee professionals are generally fl avor-hunters, always looking for that next exciting taste or the most interesting bite of food they can fi nd. Because we work with one of the most complex consumables known to man, it makes sense that we • Hospitality, especially through offering food and drink, is a common way that coffee producers will welcome vis- itors into their home, farm, or mill. Green-coffee buyers will often tell stories about days when they visit three or four producers and are fed a meal at each stop—it can be hard to fi nd room for a fourth lunch, but some of the most experienced buyers manage to do it! It's important to keep in mind that sometimes the producer is offering something special, or going out of their way to prepare something as a gesture of welcome. • When it comes to sitting down for a meal, sometimes utensils need not apply: There are many cultures around the world where most food is eaten with your hands, or cooked on skewers, or with different types of bread or starch. It's generally a good idea to pack a small hand sanitizer anyway for health reasons, but certainly if there isn't hand-washing access you'll be glad you have it before taking a bite or two that you regret. • This might be a controversial opinion, but it is generally all right for you to very politely decline an offer of food that you are not willing or able to eat. The key words here are very politely: Avoid saying things like, "Oh, I don't eat that," or, "I couldn't eat that," and instead say something like, "Thank you so much, please excuse me but I would rather not." Again, feel free to communicate through your trip leader that you have a sensitivity, allergy, or preference that makes it impossible for you to eat certain foods: They can either pass on the information themselves or help you fi nd a way to convey the message without being offensive or seeming rude. • Relatedly, listen, we'll level with you: We've almost nev- er been on a trip where at least one person didn't get sick, either from food, a drink (or too many drinks), a bumpy car ride, or elevation. Try to remain calm about the illness if it strikes you. MEALTIME ETIQUETTE 63 www.baristamagazine.com

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