National Coffee Day: Think before you caffeinate yourself
If your office is anything like mine, there is always something brewing in the coffee pot. My fellow, caffeinated coworkers and I need our daily cups—yes, multiple—to keep our days moving. I firmly believe that coffee is one of God’s many gifts to humanity.
Sunday, September 29 is National Coffee Day . Many of us—including some of us at U.S. Catholic—will be flocking to our favorite coffee shops to toast the event. Before you head out, I’d like to suggest two things for you to consider before you pick a place to enjoy your steaming cup of Joe.
1. Support local, independent businesses. By getting a cup of coffee at an independent coffee shop near your home, you’re helping out your town by putting money back into the economy. Money that is spent at chain businesses—such as Starbucks  and Dunkin’ Donuts —help create profits for the gargantuan corporations and don’t do much for your hometown.
Supporting these shops is not only good for money but it also grows community. As a world that is so interconnected, it's amazing that we sometimes miss keeping in touch with our immediate community. Invite a neighbor or a fellow parishioner out for coffee after Mass on Sunday.
2. Purchase some fair trade coffee. By eliminating the “middleman” in the trading business, the fair trade network gives more money to people who deserve the profit most—the producers. Much of the coffee that we drink in the United States is shipped from farmers in South American countries like Brazil and Colombia. When we give more of the profits to the farmers, we’re supporting them and their communities and promoting Catholic social teachings on the common good and human dignity in work. (For more information about the fair trade world, read this article “From the grounds up: The future of fair trade”  which appeared in the November 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic.)
Not to sound contradictory but if a chain coffee shop is your only option or you're going to grab some freebies , try supporting the fair trade movement while you do it. Starbucks, for example, has been making great strides  toward having 100 percent of their coffee as fair trade coffee. They also support forest conservation.
That being said, if you can find a local, independent coffee shop that offers fair trade coffee, that’s even better. Happy National Coffee Day, everyone!