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Bald Guy's Travel Thoughts

4 Planes, 2 Countries, A Bus, and A Plan

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing you about my journey to Costa Rica to share the progress of my Research & Development coffee farm there.

Bald Guy at Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Liberia, Guanacaste

Bald Guy at Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Liberia, Guanacaste

I don’t want to forget the many miles, places, faces, and – most importantly – the pursuit of something bigger than a profitable business: the opportunity to make a difference in the coffee growing community. 


You see, the supply chain of coffee is not farmer friendly.  Actually, I would suggest that any supply chain that was started by 15th century European Super Powers is focused upon crown, cash, and conquest, thereby trumping justice, mercy, and a fair deal.

Regrettably, not much has changed in the vertical nature of this supply chain. Don’t be fooled when you see a smiling coffee farmer on a poster or bag of coffee. I’ve walked dirt with many farmers only to hear the same story of hard work, sacrifice, risk, and their reward of low pay, or in some cases, no pay at all.

After hearing these stories from coffee farmers that have become my friends, Project Eden was born. Once I understood the intricacies of how the supply chain worked, I began looking for ways that I could make a difference.  The result? A research & development farm that models the best growing practices for healthier plants and a lab where coffee growers can develop the skills to evaluate their own coffee (called “cupping” coffee). This not only results in great coffee in your mug, but it also empowers coffee farmers to know what their coffee is worth and not settle for anything less than a fair deal on it.
 
So, today I’ll be taking four planes that will bring me to Nicaragua where I’ll meet up with an Appropriate Technology class from Appalachian State. From there, we’ll head to the “Valley of the Saints” in Costa Rica to begin a site assessment on how Appropriate Technology can integrate with the equipment needed to process coffee.
 
Excited? Yes. Overwhelmed? Yep, that too.
 
You see, this day is truly monumental. Everything I have worked and dreamed for in this little mountain community is (finally) going to happen.  Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Co. is one step closer to being involved in something bigger than I could have ever imagined when it started 10 years ago.  
 
It’s been a long road of obedience that will result in a small-no-name-do-nothing business paying farmers and pickers fair wages for their labor. Bald Guy Brew will delight not only in amazing coffee, but also in knowing the we made a difference in the coffee growing community.


Reflections from 30,000 Feet

This morning I was struck by the throng of humanity making their way through challenging lines at security. I guess that is what happens when you live in Boone. 

As we wove our way through endless rectangles, it dawned on me: If I think this is bad, it’s gonna be real interesting when they scan my backpack. Stuffed inside my "carry on” was an anemometer (a device that measures wind speed) that, for all intents and purposes, was not coming out of my bag… I barely got it in there to begin with.

Of course I'm glad that TSA flagged it. I mean, how many coffee roasters do they find travelling around with pipes, wires, and other fun shapes that make for an interesting X-ray?

Fortunately, a retired Navy navigator currently working with TSA was sympathetic to my situation and what I thought would be hard (even though I did end up ripping my pack getting the anemometer out) actually turned out to be kinda cool.

You see, I really don't really know what I'm doing. I'm kinda just faking my way through this big-hairy-audacious-goal of trying to create global market access for remote coffee growers.

But my new friend reminded me of something I once heard:  

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."

Pursuing a passion that never leaves port would be like sitting on a ship that never sails. Sometimes, after you untether from the dock, you gotta fake it until you learn the rhythm of life at sea.


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