Coffee as a Love Language
Coffee is my love language (a tall half decaf Americano with steamed cream to be precise). Not only is it mildly addicting and lifeblood to this mother of young children, our coffee shop culture provides a place to gather. It gives us a chance to be in our communities, a place to sit with a friend, or a place to have a remote office location. In many ways, coffee brings us together in Gig Harbor.
In the southeast region of Haiti, coffee also brings the community together. As one of the coffee producing regions of the country, the hillsides are dotted with old coffee plantations with tall trees. The green beans ripen slowly in the not too hot, not too cold, not too shady, but not too sunny sun. Most of the coffee trees in this region have deep, healthy roots, but produce little fruit as they have been allowed to grow out of control, at times over 20 feet. As the crop becomes smaller and smaller, more and more farmers abandon coffee and pull up their trees to attempt some type of annual crop with lower yields and greater potential for soil erosion. In an area prone to flooding, this poses a major threat.
Three years ago, World Relief gathered the coffee community together and proposed a new method of crop production. The farmers were asked to prune back their trees to only one stalk. This one stalk would yield a smaller crop for one year, but a harvest was promised of three to four times greater within three years. Most of the farmers were skeptical. The compromise was to prune back 20 trees the first year, and watch what happened. Farmers like Mr. Bonheure decided to give it a try. After all, his trees were producing such little yield, he was one season away from pulling up his trees anyway. He needed a way to provide for his family. The next year after seeing his yield increase, he pruned 1,000 more trees on his farm. And this year, he pruned the rest. As the farmers in the region have seen the result, many have begun to work together to prune each others farms seeing that coming together produces greater results.
Mr. Bonheure gave us a tour of his farm. As we walked, he earned our friendship by handing us mangoes and stopping to comment on how he loved certain coffee trees, that they were each uniquely beautiful. He smiled as he told us how in the past he was someone who “was trying to fight through misery.” Now his work has value. He thanks God for what he once thought was a crazy idea that would never work. Coffee is his love language. It provides for his family, it brought his community closer together as they worked side by side, and it showed him God’s love through the fruit produced by action.