I love coffee. I drink about 4 cups a day. I only french press at home…the way God intended coffee to be brewed. Even though brewing it this way only costs a few pennies a cup, I love coffee enough to pay a few pounds ($4) for a cup of coffee at a good shop.

I also will only buy Fairtrade beans and drink Fairtrade brew…thisworld-fair-trade-day-logo often challenging especially when living in a country where the majority of people, when visiting them in their home, will offer you a cup of coffee, instant that is, and think they are doing you a favor. Instant coffee? Are you kidding me? That’s an abomination for which God should reserve the right to revoke your salvation should you choose to serve instant coffee. It takes months and months to grow the beans, long hours to pick them, dry them, roast them…and then you’re going to brew instant coffee? Blech.

Instant coffee, however, is actually a perfect example of just how little we are willing to pay for a cup of coffee and as a result just how little we think about the people who work so hard to provide us with this heavenly brew. Would you pay just a few pennies a cup for a glass of ‘instant beer’? How about ‘instant wine’? (I guess wine in a box is pretty close). What if they had ‘instant steak’ or ‘instant Ben & Jerry’s’. Ok, taking the thought a bit far.

But the crux of the question is important. How much would you pay coffee_beansfor a cup of coffee? Not because of the quality of the cup of brew…but how much would you be willing to pay to ensure that the person or persons responsible for your beverage were paid a fair wage?

In a Times.com article on Fair Trade coffee, that question was posed in a round about way. A woman, who willingly and regularily spent $4.15 on her frappacino was asked if she would be willing to spend $4.50 or even $5.00 to ensure that the coffee grower would end receiving a fair wage for his/her efforts. The answer was “Wow, these days, that’s a tough one.”

It’s a tough one, because in the midst of paying $3.00 or more a gallon to drive our SUVs for every trivial errand, paying $8.00 or more for a theatre/movie ticket, paying $2.75 or more to have each shirt dry-cleaned, and paying $10.00 or more to have our car washed by a machine so we don’t have to get out of our big SUVs, it is hard to pay an extra .50 cents for our coffee to ensure that coffee growers around the world might be able to make more than $2.50 a day…barely above the world poverty line.

From my standpoint, this issue of how much we are willing to pay is fundamentally about justice. It is about how much we value people and their efforts and the services we provide. The tendancy is to want anything we want at the cheapest possible price. In the pursuit of justice and quality, I personally am making a move towards having less, but what I have is of higher quality and exhibits a desire to be about justice for the poor (Proverbs 29:7).

Less truly becomes more when we think and live a little more like this…the more just happens to be in the pockets of people who need it alot more than I do.

How much would you pay for a cup of coffee?

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I LOVE coffee.  I do seriously…it would nearly kill me if God told me to fast from it.  So it’s no surprise that I’m reading and enjoying ‘The Gospel According to Starbucks’ by Leonard Sweet.the-gospel-according-to-starbucks

I’ll be honest, I used to be a big Starbucks fan, but lately I’m not.  I prefer independent coffee shops, not because Indy is so much better, but because I’m more likely to be able to find 100% organic coffee that is 100% fairly traded.  Starbucks says its the largest purchaser of fairly traded coffee, but only a small percentage of their coffee is Fair Trade, they just buy a high quantity of those beans.  Support Fair Trade coffee growers!

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Beyond what Leonard Sweet is saying about Starbucks…he has a great way with words.  I’ve found some real gems, things I’ve already believed, but he articulates them in a way that resonates with me.

He talks about how the western church in the 20th century, has made it’s primary message that Jesus, Christianity, the gospel can help make you a better person.  So we and our churches create programs to do that.  We preach sermons to help us become better people…and it all feels like on big self-help manual.  And then we have missed the point, we have not seen the deep, simple, profound, live changing transforming heart of the message.  The purpose of Christ and the Good News and the church is not to help us become a better version of me.

Leonard Sweet writes, ‘The passion of Christian faith is the ability to say, “Yes, Christianity can make you a better person.  That better person is Jesus.”‘  Pair this statement with John 3:30 where when John is challenged by his followers to do something because many of them are leaving to follow Jesus and he responds by saying, “I must become less, and he must become more.”  This is the heart of the gospel and it is my daily goal.

Now time to go find a good cup of coffee.