A Coffee Grower by Any Other Name...

A Coffee Grower by Any Other Name... - Utopian Coffee

Welcome to the Oaxacan journal series with our founder, Brendon! He has been living in Oaxaca, Mexico the past couple of months to learn more about the exporting process in coffee growing regions. 

When I was young, and even in the recent past, people would regularly call me "Brandon". I didn't typically correct them as it was generally a one-time interaction, but it always bothered me a bit because it felt like they didn't know me. I'm certain that it was an honest mistake. They weren't trying to be disrespectful or careless, but it did create a bit of a disconnect relationally. As someone who is intentional about getting names right, I was really bothered when I realized this week that we had been incorrectly spelling the name of one of our coffee producers....FOR 3 YEARS!  

To give a little background, we started our specialty coffee roaster in 2006 as a way to unite coffee quality with human flourishing. I'm an international backpacker at heart and have spent years exploring the world and fell in love with developing countries, many of which had coffee as a predominant export. Throughout the years, we have worked more and more closely with coffee producers (aka farmers) and have enjoyed building relationships and getting first-hand experience with and knowledge of the incredible amount of work that it takes to grow and harvest the fruit (and seed!) that will ultimately become the roasted product that fuels our caffeinated beverages. While the process is amazing, it is really the people behind the process that make the specialty coffee industry worth being a part of.

She was gracious when she saw the coffee bag marked "Alba Flores" and she didn't say anything other than the expression of gratitude for purchasing her coffee. I could sense there was a healthy pride as she eyed the label with her name...only it wasn't exactly her name. Just recently, I received a message from our exporter as we were discussing her farm and he referred to her as "Alva". I drilled into the spelling to confirm that he had not "fat fingered" the wrong letter on his keyboard. He assured me it was the correct spelling. It was then that I thought back to Alva's reaction to the coffee bag that I had seen her hold with pride. Maybe it was what I interpreted. Or maybe, like the 12-year-old me, she was hoping and wishing that someone who had known her for years would have gotten her name right.

coffee farmer looking at coffee bag with her name on it next to a V60 dripperWe've since rectified that and updated our website, coffee offering labels, etc. and maybe it wasn't a big deal to her. But for me, building meaningful relationships at coffee origin is a big deal. And that starts with knowing them...and the way they spell their name.

Until Next Time, 



Founder of Utopian Coffee

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1 comment
  • Brendon, I grearly appreciate your vulnerability, humility, and intentionality in this. Thank you for sharing this story. If more ever develops in this story line, I hope you will also share that with us!

    Lisa on

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