If you’ve stepped into a hip coffee shop lately, or bought a bag of gourmet beans to grind at home, you’ve probably noticed something: Coffee now arrives with lots of information about where it came from, sometimes as specific as the name of the farm where it was grown. There’s Bella Carmona from a volcanic region in Guatemala, or Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe varietal—which often smells of blueberries. In short, this “third-wave coffee,” as it’s known, is going the way of wine. A fine cup of joe supposedly reflects the soil and microclimates where the beans were cultivated, as well as the labor practices surrounding their harvesting.
“In the course of a few years, a fancy coffee went from a Starbucks latte to a cup of individually poured coffee from some particular cooperative in the highlands of an equatorial country,” explains journalist Alexis Madrigal. He’s the host of a new podcast called Containers, which is all about how the shipping industry shapes the global economy, and is way more riveting than you might think. He joined us on our latest episode of our food politics podcast, Bite, to talk about the “hidden back end” of the fancy coffee revolution.
Read on at Mother Jones.