Coffee, Supply Streams & Power

The structure for how the coffee industry purchases coffee dates back centuries and is deeply connected with the history of slavery. This session explores how coffee supply streams work against the backdrop of the history of colonialism. As coffee professionals, we believe it’s important to gain a deeper knowledge of the systems that made coffee possible throughout history in order to see more clearly where we are and what we can do today to work toward racial equity.

While this used to be an internal education offering, we began running this session publicly in honor of Black History Month in 2020, and continue to do so due to through today. The entirety of your $5 ticket will be donated to Community Voices Heard, the largest Black-led, member-driven, grassroots, principally women of color and low-income families organization building power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers. CVH’s Follow Black Women project seeks to position Black women as drivers for public policy and governance.⁠ Learn more about the organization here.

About the Instructor & the Development of this Course

“For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Amaris and I’m the Director of Roasting. I’m biracial, my mother’s family is Nicaraguan, and I come from an academic background. After finishing an undergraduate degree in Science, Technology, and Culture, I went on to get a Master’s in Museums and Archival Policy. At the end of it all, it was clear to me that I loved coffee and my education put me in a prime position to pursue interest in topics like history, transparency, equity, and gender in coffee. I really got into a mode of research while working in roasting and sourcing, and through that I founded an organization called Women in Coffee Project in 2018. And, over the past year, I have experienced a powerful sense of urgency and responsibility to make sure we were including racial justice in that work, without which there will be no gender justice. I joined a free, online course on “Coffee and Colonialism” and through readings and lectures in that class alongside my own personal study, it became clear that within the coffee industry we don’t make space for, or understand the significance of, the Black history of coffee. This class is my effort to relate some of what I learned as well as shine a light on the historical power structures created by the coffee industry that have shifted and changed into new power structures today. I’m still on a journey of learning myself and when I asked myself ‘what can I do?’ to make my work more impactful, this course was the first answer to that question, but I know there are more out there.”

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