Polite [puh-lahyt] adjective: Having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.
In the summer of 2012, I was deployed to Afghanistan.
In a lot of ways, the rural agricultural communities we operated in resembled small-town Texas—just replace the cotton and corn of Texas with fields of poppy.
One morning as the sun was coming up, my platoon was walking into a neighborhood and I noticed a billboard. I don’t remember if there was any text (probably because it was in Arabic) but I will never forget the image. There were two sets of open, upturned hands. The first set of hands was holding a poppy flower, with handcuffs around the wrists. The second set of hands was holding a variety of produce, mainly vegetables, but there were no handcuffs binding the wrists together.
Walking through the poppy fields, my platoon and I had just confiscated loads of black tar heroin. I couldn’t help but chuckle, thinking about how the marketing campaign had utterly failed. But the humor was over quickly when I realized that whoever had created that billboard had wanted to end the travesty that we were witnessing.
I can only imagine that for most poppy growers, the choice to grow a crop that produces heroin is an economic choice that allows them to support their families. Surely, most farmers would rather grow a crop that doesn’t make them a criminal. But unless they have a feasible alternative to give them food-security, they will simply continue to grow poppy.
In Myanmar, the 2nd biggest producer of opium, the alternative crop is coffee. Curate Coffee Collective in Portland has that coffee. The coffee farms that Curate imports from used to be land that produced poppy. Where good-willed marketing and even the threat of raiding Army Rangers failed—coffee has succeeded. But only as long as we buy it.
Fortunately, they don’t have to pull our legs, because the coffee is delicious. So, today we show our respect and consideration for others by roasting and serving their coffee—and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you!
This coffee comes from the Emerald Peacock Co-Op in the Shan state bordering China, which is one of the poorest regions in the world. The Co-Op is run by extended family from a minority group that originally farmed poppy.
Torch connected with the Emerald Peacock Estate family through a friendship forged between one of Torch’s founder’s daughters, and a girl who was from the family of the farmers. After the connection was made, Torch was able to support this region by investing in coffee trade so the family could transition from poppy to coffee. Torch has been able to nurture this relationship by offering coffee processing training and training on different farming methods.