I haven't been on here in MONTHS! tut-tut, how lapse of me. Anyhoo, while I catch up on all the gossip for you merry bunch I thought I'd post you all an update.
My uni project is developing slowly but surely in that I'm just about to start my second year. It has come round sooooo quickly, it's unnerving. For the past year, I've been reading solidly about Coffee, and Waste and Quality, and coffee shop culture, and the effects of caffeine on the brain, and the economics of globalisation and their effects on small scale organic production efforts, and the history of London's coffee shops and Actor-Network Theory, and old fashioned roasting techniques from ancient Constantinople and so on and so forth...
Now, and only now, have I finally begun to do some 'fieldwork' - that is, collect some unique data of my own. So far this has involved interviews with regular customers in my chosen coffee shops, and some focus groups of people telling me what they think "high quality" coffee is. Results are so far... not very useful. But I still have tonnes to do.
I am also going to conferences, where I get to mix with academics and industry specialists who all know far more about what they are talking about than I do, and I will sit in the corner feeling completely overwhelmed. In a few weeks, I am off to Ohio, for a conference on "The Moral, Economic and Social Life of Coffee"
(clicky for details). It looks really interesting, but I am so nervous of showing off my ignorance there!
After that comes the massively exciting part - overseas fieldwork!! I am off to El Porvenir
in Nicaragua (a fairtrade, co-operative plantation north of Leon) and Doka Estate
in Costa Rica (an enormous commercial plantation in Alejuela), I get two months in each place to find out as much as I can - I'm going in the harvest season, so I'm expecting it all to be quite manic. I got the flight tickets through last week, and consequently my attitude towards the trip has gone from Wild Excitement to Utter Terror to now just Low-Level Anxiety. 6 weeks to go!! Am counting the days....
All my coffee-related research appears on my own blog - if you are interested, please check out http://drcoffee.wordpress.com
Comments and feedback more than welcome!