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Book Review: A Cafecito Story

  • Subject: [cg] Book Review: A Cafecito Story
  • From: Alliums <garlicgrower@snip.net>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 10:56:44 -0500

Hi, Folks!

Here is my latest effort.  Actually, I was supposed to get the book on Slow
Food, but this one came instead.  It was actually worth reading. I retain
copywrite, but if you'd like to use it somewhere, give me credit and a copy
of the publication it appears in -- it comforts my Mom to know that I'm at
least famous, if not rich! ;-)

Someday, someone will give me cash! ;-D


A Cafecito Story by Julia Alvarez, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White
River Junction, VT, 2001.  ISBN:  1-931498-00-8, $14.95.

Throughout Central America it is a household ritual to offer a "cafecito" (a
small cup of dark, rich, potent coffee) to any visitor, especially a
stranger. Together, Julia Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner, offer this
small, yet potent book to the coffee drinkers of North America in the hopes
that it will inspire them to join with the coffee growers of Central America
both to preserve biodiversity where coffee is grown and to provide the
richest possible beverage where coffee is enjoyed.

A journey from the poetic to the practical, Alvarez begins the book with the
lyrical journey of Joe, a displaced and disaffected Nebraska native who ends
up in the Dominican Republic on a vacation and ends up finding meaning and
purpose by growing coffee and community with the small-scale campesino
growers whose shade-grown coffee plots produce a richer, but less plentiful
crop than the agribusiness company plantations.  Woodcuts by Belkis Ramírez,
a celebrated Dominican Republic artist, compliment the tale's dreamy,
leisurely meanderings.

Just when you think there's getting to be a bit much syrup in this coffee
tale, Bill Eichner steps in with an "Afterward" of plain, straightforward
prose to tell you what it's really like to start up an organic, shade-heavy
farm to produce premium coffee that turns into an organic farming
cooperative that turns into a community school system that hopefully will
end up transforming not only the Alta Gracia farm region, but all those who
love and consume coffee regularly.

Just when you wonder how you can get your hands on this type premium coffee
and make other purchases that support craftpersons and ecosystems rather
than enrich multinational corporations, the book ends with a succinct
explanation of the Fair Trade movement and 5 pages of resources for making
immediate purchases.

Realizing that after reading this book, you're dying for a cup of Alvarez
and Eichner's coffee, Chelsea Green, the publishers of "A Cafecito Story" is
currently offering their organic, shade-grown coffee from Alta Gracia, their
Dominican Republic farm/cooperative, for $12 a pound.  Click on
http://www.chelseagreen.com/Alvarez/Cafecito.htm for details.

Read the book.  Drink the coffee.  And as Alvarez suggests, listen to the
birds sing.

Reviewed by Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
Phoenixville, PA

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