Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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65 calls, maybe even Facebook friend requests (but make sure that's acceptable before send- ing a "poke"). Thankfully, smiling is the one universal language, and it doesn't require much effort to also learn "please" and "thank you" in the tongue spoken by your producer hosts. (See the sidebar for some other useful phrases.) Flashing a really nice smile doesn't remove the need to be sensitive about topics of conversa- tion, however, and for the sake of politeness as well as cultural appropriateness, some subjects should just be off the table completely. "No matter how big or small the producer is, they are never comfortable talking about mon- ey—especially in the middle of a group visit. So it is best to avoid questions like, 'How much money do you/your farm make?' or, 'How much did you invest on the farm?'" KJ says. "Even for prices, if the producer does not offer a price list after the cupping session, it is recommend- ed that the subject is talked [about] in private." "If you are attending a trip with the intent of buying coffee, just be cognizant of the itin- erary that the hosts have put together," offers Shelley Flood of Silo Coffee Roasters, whose fi rst trip was to Costa Rica last February on a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) educational tour. "Most of the farms that we visited were either part of a co-op or were working directly with exporting companies," making it diffi cult, awkward, or even impossible to negotiate a direct sale or discuss a business partnership. "If you are attending a buying trip with an importer, that is a horse of a different color," Shelley adds. Similarly, it can be tricky territory to bring up politics, either related to your home country or the place where you're visiting: You just can never know what someone else's ideals or beliefs are, and until you become comfortable and establish that trusted relationship, it's probably best to avoid getting into it about leaders or laws. (If you have a question about local legislation that might impact your stay— such as women's, LGBTQ+, or disabled folks' rights and protection, we recommend doing research or having a conversation with your host before touching down.) That said, there are so many other things to talk and ask about, and that can offer both you and your host (and fellow travelers) deep insight into coffee and this shared passion we all have. "You will get the most out of your ori- gin trip if you get out of your comfort zone and really get to know the people who are on the trip with you," says Shelley. "Ask questions: Most people are excited to tell you about their business and are interested in hearing about yours. You'll be amazed at what you learn if you just take the time to listen." To that great advice, we say: Hear, hear! And don't forget to send us a postcard!

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