The world of coffee – discovering the coffee industry

Come on, don’t you ever stop and smell the coffee? – Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

Okay, you might say that coffee has nothing to do with travel, so what is this doing on Sarahswanderland? You’re probably right. But, everywhere I go, I look for great coffee. So in my world, travel and coffee belong together.

First, who likes coffee?

Mostly, when I ask this question, people tell me they do.

Coffee = Coffee, right?

What kind of coffee do you like?

Usually, the answer to this question is “with milk” (or something along those lines).


Like many people, I started drinking coffee at university. Instant coffee, mostly, because it was the one I could afford and all you needed was hot water.

But, gradually, good coffee became a bit of an obsession of mine.

The World of Coffee

So, I started to look into it and was surprised to see that there is a whole world of knowledge surrounding the brew. But while my friends can talk about different grapes when it comes to wine (we live in a wine growing region, so it is practically in our blood), I haven’t found many with whom I can discuss different kinds of beans.

Luckily, the coffee industry seems to be moving into the spotlight (too slowly for my taste, but still). In recent years, coffee shops have been sprouting like mushrooms across Europe and it has become much easier to find fantastic coffee (sweet!).

Want to know more?

So, if you want to jump onto the bandwagon and learn all there is to know, try this book:

“The World Atlas of Coffee” by James Hoffmann

It’s a great book for beginners, easily written with fantastic pictures. After listing different coffee species and trees, the author walks you through the harvesting and processing methods. After that, you can learn more about the coffee industry in 29 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Coffee and sustainability

Another interesting fact: The sustainability of the coffee industry is starting to be more widely discussed. In 2007 the International Coffee Agreement was signed to promote and develop a sustainable coffee sector. Ever heard of it? Well, me neither, and that’s a shame, isn’t it? I guess by now, most people know that the capsules used by popular brands are bad for the environment. But that’s it. What should we buy then?

I hope that the trend towards sustainability, fair trade and better relations between farmers and coffee roasters will continue. But in order to get there, the general population has be made aware of this issue. In our world of coffee capsules, I wonder how many people actually know that their choice of coffee matters and impacts the life of people at the other side of the world. Why not make this information more accessible to the population at large and promote sustainable trade? 

Chemex from

What can you do?

So, you love coffee and you want to support fair trade? Why not start by visiting your local coffee shops. See if you can find one that’s committed to sustainability. I found small shops with their own roasting facilities that import beans straight from farmers. This way, the farmers get a better price for their product and the coffee can still be sold at a reasonable price.


Note: The pictures in this post are taken from and free for commercial use. If you use more than the pictures, please give credit as usual 🙂

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