MILAN – A History of Coffee is the story of how a tiny psychoactive seed changed the world and shapes our lives today. Across six episodes, historian Professor Jonathan Morris, author of Coffee. A Global History and documentary maker James Harper, of Filter Productions, narrate how humans transplanted coffee across oceans to keep up with demand for this comforting and stimulating beverage.
Each sip of coffee we drink is steeped in dark colonial past
The reason we can enjoy it all every morning is because it’s relatively cheap, and many people suffered under European colonisers to create systems that produced this cheap coffee.
A key theme discussed during the podcast series was how many features of the trading systems that enable consumers to enjoy cheap coffee today were established at the expense of enslaved Africans, indigenous peoples of colour, and indentured labourers, creating racial ideologies and inequalities that persist and harm people of colour to this day.
In this bonus episode of A History of Coffee, documentary maker James Harper moderates a conversation between Professor Peter D’Sena, a leading historian from the decolonising academic movement, and Professor Jonathan Morris, author of Coffee: A Global History.
They explore how colonialism shaped coffee, and what a cup of coffee that seeks to address the damage of colonialism would look like.
Coffee created enormous fortunes for some, and misery for many more. Sometimes the environment benefited, but more often it was plundered. If we want to make coffee a more equitable industry that’s also kinder to the environment, a place to start is understanding the stories and systems that put the coffee into your cup this morning.
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