I’m propped up somewhere on the hillside in Guatemala, surrounded by rolling hills that spill off into the distance and being enclosed by the vibrant green coffee trees. The temperature rests at 70°F, and I wobble back and forth with a heavy basket attached to my waist. I spend the afternoon in the sun picking the berries and fill my basket to twelve pounds. Once my day is done, I stay around to watch the processing. I watch the pulp, mucilage, and parchment as they’re removed, turning the fruit into green colored-beans. Then they’re prepared to be shipped across the world where they’ll be roasted, ground, and brewed. By four in the evening, the harvest day is done, and I look at my calloused palms. The process of picking coffee cherries is extremely labor-intensive. Later in the evening, I reach into my pocket and feel something small and round. It’s red and the exterior is smooth. I put it in my mouth; it’s tart, slightly sweet – reminiscent of a raspberry or a cranberry with the texture of a raisin. The taste is mild and oddly satisfying. Have you ever tasted a coffee cherry?
Last Sunday I went to Parlor Coffee’s tasting room in Brooklyn and bought coffee beans and had an espresso. I was so excited to finally go to Parlor’s tasting room. Their one of my favorite coffee roasters and since the space is mainly for roasting, the space is only open to the public from 10 am to 3 pm on Sundays. The space is beautiful and comforting, I could’ve sat there for hours catching up on personal things. It was also very interesting to see coffee beans being roasted in the back of the space. I had an espresso and sat and read the newspaper for a couple of hours. Having coffee and reading the newspaper makes me so happy, but I don’t make time for it anymore because of school. Going to Parlor and having this experience reminded me of how important it is to have a balance between school work and the things I enjoy. While I was there I had a great conversation with the barista and am going to try and go to Parlor every Sunday morning for coffee.
Coffee Bean Participation Assignment
- What other names/forms/varieties does your food have?
Coffee fruit, stone fruit
- What are additional ingredients added sometimes or in some places?
Coffee beans can be used for many things. Often combined with milk and water
- Where does your food come from?
Coffee beans are roasted and produced everywhere. Mainly Central and South America and Africa
- Who eats your food?
- Who doesn’t eat your food?
People who don’t like the taste of coffee.
- What is your food associated with?
- What does this food mean to you?
I’ve worked in the coffee industry of a number of years and the cafes I’ve worked were the most inclusive, accommodating, and warm environments I’ve ever been a part of. I met many of the most important people in my life through the coffee industry. Working in these environments lifted me out of bad places. I also spent a lot of time in high school working in coffee shops as a way to be out of the house.
I’ve also always been interested in the history of coffee and how it’s grown, roasted, traded, and brewed.
- What associations do you have with this food?
I have so many great memories attached to coffee. I remember the incredible people I’ve met in the industry and the cafes I’ve gone to over the past few years that became safe spaces for me.
- List as many memories associated with this food as you can.
– I remember all the cafes I’ve worked in; La Colombe, Urban Bean, the Bachelor Farmer, Vif
– I remember working at La Colombe in NoHo and a customer pulling the sparkling water tap off the wall. Water was spraying everywhere in the middle of a rush. It was one of the goofiest things I’ve seen a customer do.
– I remember waking up at four in the morning and walking to work at Bachelor Farmer as the sun rose. Minneapolis sunrises are so beautiful.
– I remember teaching myself art history and having breakthroughs with my creative process at Five Watt and Urban Bean when I was in high school. These places were my safe spaces when I couldn’t be at home.
– I remember working at Urban Bean a couple years ago and being afraid to close by myself at night.
– I met one of my closest friends when I became a regular at Spyhouse in Minneapolis.
– I met my friend Lukas through the coffee community in Minneapolis and ran into him at different coffee shops throughout the city. Frequent, random encounters with people is an interesting way to make a friend.
– I remember a man yelling at me at Bachelor Farmer for not letting him skip the line for a refill.
– I remember playing a Men at Work vinyl at Bachelor Farmer.
– I remember learning about coffee in depth at the La Marzocco training lab in Seattle last year.
– I remember finding The World Atlas of Coffee
- Draw your food.
Five additional Qs to answer
- What kind of plant does coffee grow on?
The coffee tree is a tropical evergreen shrub (genus Coffea) and grows between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
- How long does it take a coffee bean plant to produce?
It takes a coffee bean plant three to four years to produce the fruit.
- How many processing methods are there?
There are three main processing methods: washed, natural, and honey processed.
- Where is coffee most commonly grown?
Arabica coffee beans are usually cultivated in Latin America, eastern Africa or Asia. Robusta beans are grown in central Africa, southeast Asia, and Brazil.
- What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans?
Arabica beans have a sweeter, softer taste, with notes of sugar, fruit, and berries with higher acidity. Robusta beans have a stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and nutty aftertaste.
I learned so much from our class’s visit to the African Burial Grounds. It made me realize I know very little of New York’s past. It’s alarming how much of our city’s history is swept under the rug and forgotten. Something the presenter said that stuck with me is that history is hiding in plain sight. I don’t pay attention to my surroundings, and her presentation made me realize how much I’m missing.
New York has a dark past. I wasn’t aware New York’s landscape has changed drastically over the centuries. I’m also shocked at how prevalent slavery was in New York. New York wouldn’t be where it is today without slaves’ work. I feel so uneducated about this. After visiting the African Burial Grounds, I realized I have the responsibility to dig deeper into New York’s past.
My experience at the site itself was more emotional than I thought it would be. I was particularly emotional during the video. The video was really well done and was the most informative part of my visit. I also had a feeling of melancholy when we walked through the monument outside. I’d like to go back there and spend more time there reflecting.
I’m grateful we went to the museum, and I wish the space was larger with more interactive pieces. The heavy barrel you could go up and roll was one of the most powerful pieces in the space.
My partner was Ximena, and I chose to abstract a photo of her and recreate her figure with thread. I chose thread and glass as a medium because I wanted to embody Ximena’s reserved, soft-spoken, and light-hearted nature. The pastel-colored thread also represents these characteristics. She’s a sweetheart, and I felt these colors reinforced this.
I also chose to use glass for this project because of its delicate nature. Using two pieces of glass sealed the thread in its place without distracting from the figure itself. The thread near the edges binds the two pieces of glass together.
The audio for this project was Ximena reciting her favorite poem, Viajar.
My partner is Ximena, and my found poem is inspired by a story she shared with me during our interview. Ximena told me since she was very young her father recited the poem Viajar by Gabriel García Márquez to her and her sister. It’s her favorite poem, and her father read it to her sister before she left to travel abroad and read it to Ximena before she moved to New York City. The poem is about traveling and leaping into the unknown. I fell in love with the poem after I read the English translation and decided to use it as inspiration for my found poem.
My source material for my found poem is a book my mother gave me a while ago: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I chose to use this book because it has a similar message as Viajar; Sincero teaches the readers to force momentum by leaving their comfort zones and challenging their self-doubts. I cut out bits and pieces from You Are a Badass to recreate advice my mother has given me throughout the years.
I wanted the format of my found poem to be reminiscent of a traditional letter.
My partner Ximena chose to share her skill and intimate knowledge of the Spanish language with me. She taught me about Spanish by sharing the poem Viajar by Gabriel García Márquez. Ximena has a deep connection with Viajar; she grew up hearing her father read it to her and her sister. He always emphasized the poem’s message about travel and recited it before her sister traveled abroad and before she moved to New York. Hearing about Ximena’s connection to this poem was so meaningful, and I’m so grateful she shared it with me. I’m happy she chose to share this story and this skill with me.
After reading the English translation of the poem on my own, I can definitely see why she and her family are so drawn to this particular work. It is a poem that will stick with me for a long time as well.
I took a little bit of Spanish in middle school and have been working this week to perfect the pronunciation of the poem. (I’m not quite there, but I think I’m close).
For my found poem I cut out excerpts and titles from the New Yorker. I mostly used the cut-up method, and I used the erasure method once. Initially, my process was random. I cut out every phrase that stuck with me and threw it on the paper. Then I started connecting everything together in a very thoughtful and intentional way to create a message. Throughout my process, I considered how the layout and orientation of the words would enhance the theme of my poem. I also included a few cutout images from the magazine to create a visual representation of my poem.
My poem is a comment on the distortion of truth in media, particularly by political leaders. I want the reader to question the definition of truth.