Ted Fischer on Coffee and Values | Re:co Symposium 2019

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Today, we’re very happy to present the third episode of “Value Chains: Transparency and Market Linkages,” a session recorded at Re:co Symposium this past April. Acknowledging that this isn’t the first coffee price crisis, this session brought leaders together to ask: How successful were the tools we employed previously? What new tools offer potential solutions?

If you haven’t seen the previous episodes in this series, we strongly recommend going back to watch before you continue with this episode.

Today’s episode takes a different look at the coffee value chain. Ted Fischer, a cultural anthropologist, studies how people give worth to things. Here, Ted explains how coffee acts as a vessel for all sorts of values – economic, yes, but also social, moral, and ideological – and how the coffee trade involves balancing different metrics of value. Building on fieldwork with Maya farmers, he explores how smallholders have benefited from the specialty coffee revolution, but lack the social capital to tap into the most lucrative segments of the market.

Special Thanks to Toddy

This talk from Re:co Boston is supported by Toddy. For over 50 years, Toddy brand cold brew systems have delighted baristas, food critics, and regular folks alike. By extracting all the natural and delicious flavors of coffee and tea, Toddy Cold Brew Systems turn your favorite coffee beans and tea leaves into fresh cold brew concentrates, that are ready to serve and enjoy. Learn more about Toddy at http://www.toddycafe.com.

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Table of Contents

0:00 Introduction
2:30 An introduction to the types of values bundled together in specialty coffee: economic, social fairness, ecological.
6:30 How demand for higher quality coffee in the late 90s helped the Maya people generate value from their land
14:30 However, smallholder Mayan producers are excluded from third wave microlot coffees because they lack scale and social capital
21:30 Outro