The Best of Gut Check: Java Enabled


Zach Dyer is a writer living in Saint Louis. He did his thesis research on coffee farmers in Southern Mexico. Since then, he has visited coffee plantations in Costa Rica and Mexico as well as roasters and cafés across the U.S. He blogs about coffee for Gut Check every Wednesday.

While Gut Check is on vacation this week, check out some of Zach's best work:

Brave New Cup (March 18, 2009):
Throw out your pinko-commie stereotypes that ethical commodities have to be anti-free trade. Jake is a self-professed capitalist. He feels it's not the free market that promotes these cycles of poverty; it's the business model. Coffee in Uganda is a bulk commodity where value is assigned by weight, instead of quality. By the pound, bad coffee -- even rocks and pebbles -- mixes with great coffee. "We realized that even when the farmers were growing better coffee, it wasn't translating into better prices," Jake said. Crop to Cup was going to have to change the way farmers and consumers viewed their coffee. Traceability was the answer.
Coffee Break Point (May 27, 2009):
The first shot was fired across the bow last Tuesday at approximately 10 a.m. CST. The perfect storm of "economic conditions" finally made landfall at my day job, and several people, including my boss, were swept away. Being at the bottom of the totem pole allowed me to keep my job (so far). There are, however, some changes.

I'm not allowed to take coffee breaks anymore.

"This means war!"
Java Enabled's Day at the Roasters (June 24, 2009):
Freshly roasted coffee was already turning slowly in the cooling tray below the mouth of the roaster, a 1957-vintage 22-kilo German-made Probat -- a classic Cadillac of coffee roasters. A tiny porthole in the front face of the roaster revealed loose yellow beans turning inside the drum. Between the heat of the roaster and the weather outside, part of me wondered who was roasting whom as we stood next to the Probat.
Want more of Zach's coffee knowledge? Visit the complete archive.


Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.