Whether we like it or not, so much about us is shaped by our families. Our attitudes towards life, work, and play are largely influenced by those who raised us. Life at coffee farms is certainly different and there are some unique aspects that make child-rearing and family dynamics quite different from the more developed world. Below are three crucial elements about the experiences of the families responsible for our coffee beans.
Lead by Example
They say good leaders are good learners, and I would add that the best way to learn is by example. We innately and sometimes unconsciously focus our attention on things that may seem random, but something about them is attractive. Almost without noticing we are constantly learning by simply imitating what catches our interest. This happens all the time with small things and big things. When a younger sibling sees his or her older siblings take the dirty dishes to the sink, they are more likely to do it without being specifically asked. In the same way, when my coworkers are charitable towards me, I am reminded to be charitable to them and everyone else.
Families at coffee farms don’t just check on each other at dinner time; instead, children often go to work with their parents, parents are deeply involved in their children’s education as academic opportunities are limited. This does not mean that parents are dictating to their children all day nor they keep an overwhelming regime. It means that children are observing adults and learning by their example. This is how they learn how to treat people, how to live life, and how to grow coffee.
It’s a tough world, but when we are mean to each other we are just making it tougher on everyone. Especially yourself. Living in the remote regions where coffee farms are often located means that the tightness of the community is core for the safety and well being of the town. Realistically, this takes deep inner-work. In large cities, it is easier to simply avoid people you don’t want to interact with, but in the cozy circles surrounding the farms, you can take for granted that you will continue seeing each other. So what do you do? You forgive, you have the tough conversations, and you stay on your lane; while recognizing and respecting the other person’s worth.
Take Pride on Your Roots
It is hard to be pretentious around people you’ve known your whole life and it is true that authentic people are happy people. The more in tune you are with your origin story and having clear appreciation for your ancestors as well as the surroundings that shape you, the greater the sense of true belonging. The simplicity of life in the farms is indicative of this, as farmers share a deep connection with their land. This is easy to understand when you ponder on the fact that the main product these farmers are known for is their craft, coffee beans. It takes nine months to harvest coffee beans and farmers pack up those beans in bags labeled with their specific region to ensure that as they travel across the world, everyone can recognize coffee farmers for their work.