Someone might ask what these five words have in common. For me, these five words are a common link between all the countries that I travel to as a tea and coffee buyer for Allegro Coffee Company.
Smiles are how we communicate with each other when we are not familiar with each other’s language. We greet each other with a welcoming smile. When we realize we understand each other and are in agreement on something, we smile. Between smiling and gestures, we usually figure out what each other is trying to say. It’s our human language.
Road trips imply an adventure to discover a new or frequently visited location where you are greeted by old friends and new. The best coffee and tea are grown at higher elevations, in mountainous areas. This sometimes means traveling six to eight hours in a car on long, curvy roads, passing beautiful landscapes and communities. But, what better way to get to know each other than a long car ride?
Children are everywhere in the world and share laughter and curiosity. They are usually found peeking around corners, running up to you and saying “Hello.” Or they’re playing with the world’s most common childhood toy in rural areas: a stick and a wheel and pushing it down the road. Children bring us together and create a shared desire to improve our quality of life.
Watermelon, a tasty and inexpensive fruit that is versatile enough to be found in most coffee and tea growing countries. This bright red fruit has many names in different languages but is easily shared at gatherings and special visits. And, an easy but valued expression of hospitality.
A commitment to one another and to the product is the reason why we are gathered together. I am there to learn how to be a better partner for our producers so they can continue to grow their best coffee or tea. Likewise, we share and provide feedback, or introduce new projects, and talk about our commitment to the future.
These five words together
At some point in our sourcing trips we always find ourselves parked on the side of a curvy road with coffee/tea farmers, surrounded by curious children, sharing and eating watermelon. As we look around at each other, everyone has a big smile on his/her face. Their smiles are an expression of the joy of sharing this moment together, with perhaps an unfamiliar person, who doesn’t speak the same language, but knowing we are all committed to quality coffee and tea and the common desire to help each other to improve our quality of life.