‘The World in Your Cup’: Coffee, Politics and Culture
Coffee, politics and culture are three topics that one would find difficulty in associating together. However, this is exactly what Erika Koss, Assistant Dean, has been venturing upon at Northeastern University. With a series of lectures on the same titled ‘The World in Your Cup: Conversations on the Politics & Culture of Coffee’, Koss has brought in a few interesting arguments.
Koss talks about how her interest in the topic began with her being born to non-coffee drinking parents. They would often take her to a restaurant, the scent of coffee from which she adored. Upon a visit to Africa, she got the opportunity to rekindle this interest with the mouth-watering cup she had at Kenya. The drink has now become a part of her daily life.
Talking about the lecture series, Koss says that this was inspired by her discussions with Phyllis Johnson. These discussion ranged on topics from food insecurity, gender injustice, etc. She wanted to open up these topics to a wider audience and make them look at coffee in a different light. Coffee, Koss says, means different things to each part of the world. Yet, it is one thing that can bring us all together.
Reflecting upon her research, what Koss gives us is an important discovery on how coffee itself is a culture. It becomes a part of a network intricately related to politics and trade. Her series, though largely from an American lens, doesn’t remain restricted to just that and has perspectives from across the globe. A beverage that we take for granted, it has so many stories to say. Koss’ research and lectures become an eye opener in this sense.
N Malavika Mohan