NEW YORK, NY—“When Coffee Speaks: Stories from and of Latin American Coffeepeople” by Rachel Northrop is available to order through Manhattan’s McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers. Part travelogue meets anthropological field notes, part industry review meets food sourcing exposé, “When Coffee Speaks” is a collection of interviews with people working along the coffee production chain in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Colombia.
As a freelance food and sustainability writer in New York, author Rachel Northrop realized that, in the midst of a city falling in love with local food, the coffee served on every corner would always be foreign and could never be produced close to home. This sparked a curiosity in what it takes to grow coffee in far corners of the world. Rachel read what she could find about on-the-ground coffee production but realized that none of it was written by the people actually doing the coffee growing work. As a fluent Spanish speaker, she decided to go ask people at origin to share the stories of who they are and what they do to make coffee possible.
Rachel lived and worked at origin for nine months while interviewing farm employees, coffee growers of all scales, co-op managers, agronomists, and all other manner of coffeepeople. The resulting book, “When Coffee Speaks: Stories from and of Latin American Coffeepeople,” is a collection of translated interview transcriptions, supplemented by excerpts from the contemplative blog Rachel maintained while on the road, whencoffeespeaks.com.
Topics addressed by the book’s sixty plus interviewees cover various perspectives on climate change, commodity pricing, certifications, family traditions, and innovative forms of diversification, all illustrating that coffee is arguably the world’s most dynamic commodity and intriguing crop.