I stagger into work most mornings still reeling from the stench and repressed madness of New York's subway system. I'm craving my clean sheets and a few more hours of sleep, not e-mails, phone calls, research, and writing. Like my 108 million comrades nationwide, I require a mug of strong, hot coffee to shift my brain into working mode.
54 percent of Americans depended on a daily cup of joe in 2000; today, there's 56 percent of us who need the bean at least once a day, according to the National Coffee Association. And of those coffee lovers, a growing number are drinking quality speciality beverages from independent coffee shops, a certain ubiquitious multinational chain, supermarkets, and even street kiosks--to the tune of $11.05 billion in 2005, says the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
So who's taking advantage of my need for a delicious cup?
In Rwanda, one of the world's most destitute countries, impoverished coffee growers learned techniques for quality bean production, which their president, Paul Kagame, then personally marketed and sold to high-end American chains such as Starbucks and Green Mountain. According to this New York Times article, the country's coffee production has increased more than 5 percent annually despite lower prices following the 2000 coffee crash.
Rwandan farmers and bureaucrats, with help from the U.S. Agency for International Development, sniffed out a rising demand for expensive fancy java, invested $10 million in equipment and training, and then specifically promoted their product to a voracious American market.
American businesspeople continue to feed their efficiency-enhancing addictions, while third-world farmers improve their lives. I get a non-mucky eight ounces of antioxidant-rich, diabetes-reducing energy. Everybody wins.
For more productivity- and health-enhancing food tips, see this month's Road Warrior.