How coffee connects millions of people around the world every day

Brittany Lee Waller

Coffee, it is so much more than just a caffeinated concoction compelling you to wake up every morning. And, those that drink it are so much more than just their “three quarter-double shot-flat white-extra hot-to go-please” orders. It’s a connector, a conversation starter, a culture builder and sometimes even a relationship mender.

Coffee truly creates community. So, we had a fun chat with Ed Cutcliffe from The Little Marionette, TEDxSydney specialty coffee partner, about the essential role this delicious little beverage plays in connecting humankind.  

Beyond just the brew, what brings coffee drinkers together?

In truth, all coffee drinkers can relate to each other. They understand that people shouldn’t be judged before their first coffee each day. They share the painful memories of poorly frothed milk, lukewarm takeaways and badly extracted. Coffee creates a platform for the most productive meetings, the best excuses to duck out of work/uni/the in-laws, and potentially provide the stamina to kick on after dinner into the wee hours.

What role do people play when it comes to the creation of coffee?

The process that coffee goes through to get from the coffee bush to your cup is phenomenal – at every step of the journey there are techniques honed over centuries that have an impact on the final product. The pride of the growers in producing the top-quality berry, the quest of roasters to source beans that tell the story of the land, and then to turn it into their own expression of coffee. Of course, there is the barista who grows his man bun and distresses his overalls… no, wait who weighs each shot and cleans her machine multiple times a day to provide the perfect cup… and that’s just on the supply side.

In what way does coffee create or add to culture?

The TLM team are dedicated to providing a level of service that keeps bringing people back day after day to chat about life, the crossword, Donald Trump’s latest faux pas, kids/pets/partners, fancy shoes, but mostly just to connect over a cup of coffee – to take ten minutes out of our increasingly busy lifestyles and to think about all the hands that this coffee has passed through. We champion ethical sourcing, buying coffees from famers that are dedicated to innovation though coffee processing and providing remuneration, education and a decent standard of living to their employees. We believe in building strong connections to origin.

What is the current state of equality in the coffee industry? Why is this important to you and how do you go about implementing this?

At TLM, we have consciously built a team of strong minded independent hard working women that are great at what they do. On a broader scale, it’s great to see a light being shone on ingrained issues here in Australia, such as the gender pay gap – they’re not closing it, but at least it’s on the table. But it’s also not all about money. Coffee is all about shared experiences – If we can do nothing more to change the world, we can all at least share a little more.

How vital is community to specialty coffee suppliers like yourselves?

Being a wholesale supplier, we work closely with a multitude of makers, doers and artisans. The entire wholesale community around us understand sourcing quality products and making something that you are proud to put your name to. We all know consumers are discerning about how they spend their money- they want to know that the products they commit to have the highest of integrity. Specialty coffee continues to raise the bar in both hospitality and overall communities, be it the community that drops in everyday for a flat white or latte, or the community that grows, picks and processes these coffees with such love and attention.

Wouldn’t you love to connect with your community over your favourite cup? The Little Marionette will be hot and frothing to go at this year’s TEDxSydney – be sure to register here.

Please note: No tea drinkers were harmed in the making of this story and will be fully accommodated for at TEDxSydney 2018.

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