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BLACK GOLD Transcript
COFFEE EXPERT: Coffee number 8, - 89.8. Coffee number 9, -85.
COFFEE EXPERT: There is one coffee here that is probably the best coffee that I have ever tried. It's a coffee that you can put in an espresso or you can sell straight or its beautiful just unbelievable when you find something like this. It's Ethiopian Harar. It's absolutely fantastic.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: Just pick one up.
It says Belgium.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: Now we are heading to the coffee area of Kilenso Mokonisa which produces Sidamo type of coffee. All the coffee from this area goes to the western world for consumption. We export it to Europe and we export it to America and Australia from this co-operative. So, I'm visiting the farmers to see how they are planting and how they are managing their coffee fields.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: This is the centre of our co-operative called Kilenso Mokonisa and this building belongs to them.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: A cup of coffee, how much do you think it costs in the western world? Is there anyone who knows?
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: We don't know.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: How much do you think it is?
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: We don't know.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: Do you know how much it costs here in Hagere Mariam? Isn't it one birr ($0.12 cents)?
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles] Yes, yes
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: In western countries, one cup of coffee is sold for 25 birr ($2.90). Do you know how many cups are made from one kilo of coffee?
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: Don't know. Could be a hundred
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: Eighty cups of coffee are made from a kilo of coffee. Eighty cups. When you multiply the eighty cups by 25 birr, how much does that come to?
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: It will be 2000 birr ($230). How much does a kilo of coffee cost then?
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: 2000 birr ($230).
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: And how much do you get for a kilo here?
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: 2 birr ($0.23 cents) if we're lucky.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: Is it not 4 or 5 birr ($0.57)?
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: We haven't received as much as 5 birr ($0.57) yet.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: When you look at this, what do you think?
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: It is said 'coffee is gold' and on the radio they're always talking about coffee, coffee. We listen to it, but gain nothing.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: It's the private traders who have got fat. They block others from coming in.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: Our problem is, when our coffee ripens and is ready for sale, a man comes to our farm and says to us, "I will take your coffee and pay you 0.75 birr ($0.08) for a kilo". There's no negotiation, one person decides to buy our coffee for 0.75 birr ($0.08). We have no up-to-date price information, and one person controls the market. When our coffee is ready, please take it at the right market price.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: I want to say something about this. You know that your co-operative buys coffee from you and supplies to the union. The Union sells the coffee and gives the profit to the co-operative, and then the co-operative pays you dividends.
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: Yes we know.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: The union is ready to look for a better market, to sell the coffee for a better price and return to you the profit. So please do your best to supply quality washed coffee to your co-operative.
JOE O'NEILL: What you are watching- there is a centralized market place where buyers and sellers congregate to establish the price. Last year the notional value of all the coffee contracts that was traded is about $140 billion. Coffee is the second most actively traded commodity in the world market. A lot of contracts are based upon the price of the New York Board of Trade coffee contracts. The producer knows what he can expect for his coffee. The buyer knows what he is going to pay for his coffee because they don't establish the price - the price is being established here, and most people in the world who get involved in the coffee industry pay attention to this price every day.
WOMAN: It looks like one of the circuits is down in LAC and that's what was causing the problem.
JOE O'NEILL: So this screen just gives us an idea of what's going on
everyday as it happens and this is the prices that we are reporting on.
There are about 50,000 screens around the world that are getting our prices
and they need to get them as they happen. Most of the major coffee companies
in the world, if not all of them, use the futures market to offset a lot
of the risks that they would normally have. So, if they establish a selling
price for their coffee, well they need to make sure that they can buy
coffee at a price that will make that selling price produce a profit.
TADESSE MESKELA: She is my wife, Rosa, who is always missing me because of my travels to the coffee areas and abroad. And also she supports what I am doing.
ROSA [foreign language with subtitles]: I'm proud of him. I thank God for giving him to me. He earned what he has got through relentless effort. He works day and night. He loves his farmers and defends their rights. He really loves the farmers. I'm happy because he does this. Why should the Ethiopian farmer toil in their bare feet? He wants them to afford a pair of shoes, to be well off. He asks why they still live in poverty when they're producing coffee. He is always pre-occupied with the farmers' poverty. He was planning to broaden his activities and God helped him get his dream job.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: My wife is interested in having cows to have milk for our family. I also like to have them because I used to take care of animals when I was very small. Until my age of 18, until I finished my high school and joined university. I used to help my family on the farms taking care of animals, farming, ploughing and digging and so on. So, I don't want to lose that spirit.
BARISTA (Italian with subtitles): Coffee is the first thing for Italians in the morning. Good morning - smile - coffee. Coffee gives you a head start to the day. Without it we are all miserable. Coffee depends on the Barista. Baristas should take more care of their coffee. It's very important. Very few Baristas know how to make proper coffee. Coffee is of fundamental importance because every coffee has its customer and every customer has their coffee. So it's very important. It seems easy to make a coffee until you actually get behind the bar and do it yourself. It's very important to take care over it. You have to have passion for the coffee, to nurture it. A macchiato for you.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: There are middlemen here. There
are coffee collectors, coffee suppliers, coffee exporters who are bidding
for the coffee. The coffee exporters are on the right side and this big
volume on the other side are coffee suppliers who are bringing coffee
from different coffee growing zones and regions in Ethiopia.
Coffee reaches the consumer after this end after 6 chains. We are cutting
the chains like the
ERNESTO ILLY: This is from Ethiopia. This is from the region called Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, look here, Yirgacheffe. It's a very high area, beautiful mountains, and this may be the best region for Ethiopian coffee.
FABIANA POZAR [Italian with subtitles]: We buy our coffee from most of the countries that produce good quality coffee, but Arabica coffee, not Robusta coffee. We don't use Robusta coffee in our blend. The aroma is of inferior quality and has more caffeine. So we don't use it for our blend.
ERNESTO ILLY: We purchase a coffee that is special, a lot that you cannot
exchange with any other lot, which is unique, so this is something that
does not belong to the kind of negotiation that is made in New York. New
York is commodity, we don't purchase commodity.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: How are you?
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: They are picking coffee. The workers here are getting 4 birr and 50 cents, which is less than half a dollar a day. They work 8 hours, a full 8 hours, and they are getting half a dollar a day. You can see how, they are very busy. They are working by their two hands picking poor quality coffees
INTERVIEWER: How are you feeling?
SALVATORE: I feel better than ever, man, I make coffee for a living and I get paid for it, so what have I to complain about?
SALVATORE: No. not at all.
INTERVIEWER: Where are you from?
SALVATORE: Vancouver, Canada. Thank you.
COMPERE: Looks like this year's going to be our most exciting world barista championship yet. Thank you everyone for your interest and your support of the barista craft, that's yourselves, please give yourselves a round of applause.
WOMAN: Completely nervous, cold hands and, really nervous for her.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me the lady who just competed, first lady, it's, Estonia?
INTERVIEWER: Tell me her name.
WOMAN: I can't remember, I'm sorry... it's very complicated.
COMPERE: OK, everyone, please welcome Salvatore Piccolo from Canada.
MAN: I'm nervous, I want him to win, he's one of my best friends. I want him to win more than I want myself to win.
SALVATORE: I'll be starting off with a cappuccino, followed by an espresso and I'll be finishing with my signature beverage, which I call hemispheres.
MAN: He's the world latte art champion as well, he finished second last year, he worked really hard this year to be ten times better than he was last year, and I think he's got it done, he's really doing a good job, and he's, you know, perfected his craft and he's really worked hard at it, really done a good job.
SALVATORE: Ladies and gentlemen, this drink is
TADESSE MESKELA [Foreign language with subtitles]: It was sent days ago. If you nag them every day, they'll do it quickly.
WOMAN [Foreign language with subtitles]: We sent it with the quality form and they say it's not there.
TADESSE MESKELA [Foreign language with subtitles]: Why is it not there?
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: These are the coffees which are sold to buyers and roasters around the world and roasted at their companies. These are the coffees which are roasted in the UK by Asda. These are the coffees which are roasted in Minneapolis by a company called Peace Coffee, and there are also a lot of coffees which are just sold around the world in these 5 years after the formation of our Union. Our main aim is to bring more money into the coffee growers' pocket. This is our general area and to improve the farmer's life.
WOMAN [Foreign language with subtitles]: Look, for the coffee we received the third time, 297 was paid to you. On the 28th, 290 was paid to you.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: We asked our farmers how much
do they need for their red cherries, a kilo of red cherries which we are
paying a maximum of 2 Ethiopian birr ($0.22) at this time. And they said,
to make us live a better life, to send our children to school, to feed
enough and have good clothing and a good life we need for a kilo of red
cherry 10 birr ($1.10) which is the price which they are getting for their
red cherry - last year had been 1 birr ($0.11) what they are need at this
time to improve their life is 10 fold. It doesn't mean better life means
having a car, having electricity or having a motorbike or... it doesn't
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: Oh God of truth, God of heaven and earth, maker of everything who created this beautiful land. Help us farmers to get more from our green land. Help us to change our lives, get rid of poverty, build better houses to live in, satisfy our needs, educate our children and improve our lives.
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: Help us to leave all our problems behind. Help us satisfy all our wants and needs. Lift us up to a better life. Thank you, God.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: The God of peace and the God of Ethiopia, give us a more peaceful time. Give us a fair price for the coffee we produce.
FARMERS [foreign language with subtitles]: O God, we ask you to raise the coffee price. Give us a fair price for our coffee. O god we ask you to raise the coffee price. ...raise the coffee price.
BURTE ARBA [foreign language with subtitles]: I have been a coffee farmer
for about twenty years. Our livelihood is based on coffee. It takes four
years for the coffee tree to grow to its full size. In its 5th year it
begins producing proper beans and that's when it becomes useful to us.
BURTE ARBA'S FIRST SON [foreign language with subtitles]: It is almost five years since I stopped going to school, but if I get the opportunity, I'll go back. I want to send my children to school. I am willing to do anything to help them to go to school. I do not want them to miss out like I did.
BURTE ARBA'S YOUNGER SON [foreign language with subtitles]: If you ask me why I don't want to become a coffee farmer, my grandfather who was a coffee farmer got minimal reward for his work. My father who toils until his back breaks can't get a fair price for his coffee and generate sufficient cash to meet the demands of his family. It has trapped him in the hardships of life. And me also.
BURTE ARBA'S YOUNGER SON [foreign language with subtitles]: In the future,
if I manage to get the resources and my father is in a position to support
me, I wish to get further education, to have a better life and serve my
country and people. If I succeed in getting the necessary qualifications,
I would like to be a doctor but I am willing to do any job, like being
a driver or anything, but that's in the hands of God.
ALEMAYEHU ABRAHIM [foreign language with subtitles]: For as long as the coffee price goes up and down the school will continue to be affected in very many ways. We can't even afford to buy blackboards and I doubt if we can pay the salary of our teachers in the near future.
JANINE: For those of you entering, my name is Janine and I'm the store manager here at Pike Place and this is my assistant Megan.
MEGAN: Hi, I'm Megan
JANINE: She's going to lead the coffee tasting so I'm just going to start pouring the coffee and everybody can feel free to step around.
MEGAN: So welcome everybody, you're in the first Starbucks, we started in '71 right here and the Market is a wonderful place too because it's a really cool atmosphere for Starbucks to be in.
JANINE: I've been the manager here for eight months and it's been the most special thing ever, I have worked probably the last three years just to get to this store, and it's been phenomenal.
MEGAN: And I think she probably actually did a fairly decent job since then, she just received the Manager of the Quarter award, which is for our area, which is many, many, many managers, and that's a really great tribute.
JANINE: Just when you think Starbucks is done, we keep getting bigger,
WOMAN: Nice to meet you.
JANINE: ... thank you.
WOMAN [English with subtitles]: This is the first time Sidama has been involved in famine and this is an extreme situation because we are having 200 children in 2 weeks time in another centre. That's overwhelming - that's why we have to open this area in a very short time. So, it's the extreme case, I think.
WOMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: That's enough! Enough with the banging. We can hang it from this end.
MAN [foreign language with subtitles]: This way no this way.
WOMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: This end is for the children.
MAN [English with subtitles]: When the hunger is coming at the beginning, the first people to be attacked are the very young. In our case not only that. In this therapeutic centre we have the very young at the beginning nowadays, we do have also to start to admit adults. It tells us the magnitude of hunger is very high now.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: We used to buy corn and clothes with the money we earned from coffee. Now we are harvesting less and selling it for a low price. We're poor again.
MAN [foreign language with subtitles]: Don't worry! Nothing will happen to you.
WOMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: Nothing will happen to you.
MAN [foreign language with subtitles]: 9.5
MOTHER [foreign language with subtitles]: Take off the harness.
MAN [foreign language with subtitles]: Tighten it! Stretch out your arm.
MOTHER [foreign language with subtitles]: Don't worry. It's alright. I'm here for you.
MAN [foreign language with subtitles]: Straighten your leg.
WOMAN AID WORKER [foreign language with subtitles]: We are not admitting this child. She is well nourished - not well nourished, but moderately malnourished, but it's not severe. Because of this we can't able to accept this one. She does not fulfill the admission criteria.
INTERVIEWER: So where will she go?
WOMAN AID WORKER [foreign language with subtitles]: She is going to her home.
SIMON WAKEFIELD: We are in taxi; we are heading back to the office now. What is the market doing? And currency? Okay, that's positive we shall see you shortly. Bye. The market is up a little bit.
TADESSE WAKEFIELD: New York coffee?
SIMON WAKEFIELD: New York is up a little bit. So better to be up than down
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: This is from the Oromia region,
the western part of Ethiopia.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: Simon is the only person who is paying us a better price for the conventional coffees. He is paying almost a price which is equal to the price we are selling our organic coffee.
MAN: And would you be willing to work with a roaster that wanted to operate
completely outside the New York market? Because Taylors is a roaster,
one of the things we do, basically the New York market has an awful lot
of problems, especially for speciality coffee growers which is I think,
Central America is probably the perfect example, where if the New York
market is around about 63 cents the average cost of production is probably
around about 90 cents.
TADESSE MESKELA: Is it fairly traded? Fair trade coffees?
SUPERMARKET ASSISTANT: Yes. All the coffees here are fair trade.
TADESSE MESKELA: Do you have Ethiopian coffee?
SUPERMARKET ASSISTANT: Well, we've got the Taylors there. And then we...
TADESSE MESKELA: You don't have it?
SUPERMARKET ASSISTANT: Which one is it you're looking for?
TADESSE MESKELA: Ethiopian.
SUPERMARKET ASSISTANT: Ethiopian one?
TADESSE MESKELA: Yes. This is from Papua New Guinea.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: It's amazing, all coffees are
here, but ours is not. No Ethiopian coffee at all. I am very sad because
it reminds me of my farmers, they are desperate and they are getting a
very low price - their daily income is very, very low. Here is our coffee
here Mocha Sidamo. This is Mocha Sidamo. It took me a long time to get
my coffee you see, it is just hidden behind.
BURTE ARBA [foreign language with subtitles]: We are cutting down the coffee trees. The plot I am working on now is a small plot and I am going to destroy a larger and more beautiful coffee plot and replace it with chat because the price of chat is higher than that of coffee.
BURTE ARBA [foreign language with subtitles]: I am not free to move to
other plots elsewhere. This is the fixed plot I am entitled to use by
the state. I belong here and my plot of land is not suitable for other
plants or crops I know of. I cannot easily shift to farming other crops
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: This area is rich in coffee
production, so most of the farmers in this district are tending to produce
chat side by side with coffee. This is the distribution centre of chat
for this district. You can see a lot of people selling and buying chat.
AUDIO ARCHIVE: The World Trade Organization is beginning 5 days of talks here in Mexico aimed at opening up global trade. Western countries will be seeking greater access to new markets while developing countries are expecting changes to a trading system that they say is biased and unfair.
AUDIO ARCHIVE: The success of the talks is especially important for Africa, the only continent in the world to get poorer over the last twenty years.
DR AHMED MAHAMADI [French with subtitles]: Well, I hope this conference
will be a success,
SAM MPASU MP: We would like the world trading system to be able to help us stand on our own feet so that aid is unnecessary. Trade is more important to us than aid, and that's all we're asking for. We do not want to be dependent on aid for ever. It just can't happen.
TAMRAT GIORGIS: People are negotiating behind closed doors upstairs, we are on the ground floor here, we are not allowed to go upstairs, but I understand that they are negotiating and it's very difficult to predict what the result of that negotiation is.
BARRY COATES: The way negotiations happen here in the WTO ministerial is very unfair to developing countries. A lot of the smaller ones have come along with delegations of, for example, three people. Now, the European Union alone has over 650 delegates here, most of the negotiations take place behind closed doors either in bilateral meetings between two countries or in small working groups. Now, developing countries can't hope to cover all these negotiations going on at one time.
JACQUES HABIB: The European Union and the United States are holding onto their position, that is basically they don't want to stop subsidizing their farmers. Remember that for the past 20 years the IMF and the World Bank have forced the African countries to stop subsidizing their agricultural system and their farmers.
HEGER GOUTIER (French with subtitles): Agriculture and development are not only important for us, they are laid down in the agenda. Here, we're observers. We can't intervene to help our negotiations. We don't have an office here. We have to squat in rooms. That's what we have to cope with. We want to maximize our capabilities on an intellectual, practical and material level so we can participate effectively in these negotiations.
BARRY COATES: The trade talks have just completely collapsed. The African and Caribbean Pacific countries said that they weren't being listened to. They didn't want the new issues being pushed by the European Union and they weren't prepared to negotiate any more. The EU is primarily at fault. They pushed developing countries so far and they insisted on talking about their issues rather than the central issues of poverty and development which should have been the main part of these trade talks instead of the rights of corporations as in these new issues.
IRENE OVONJI-ODIJA: The WTO is supposed to be a rules based organization but it's a power-based organization and we are not ready to accept that. If anything we are taking the power back. And we must take the power back from these few people who go into the green rooms and manipulate the rest of us.
ROBERT ZOELLICK: There were can-do countries here and there were won't-do countries. The harsh rhetoric of the won't-do overwhelmed the concerted efforts of the can-do
JACK BIGIRWA: So the poor farmers of Africa and the rest of the world will remain poor because of the subsidies. The subsidies must be removed if Africa and the rest of the world and the poor countries are going to benefit anything from these talks.
ROBERT ZOELLICK: And as I have made clear from the first days, I have taken office, the United States has an agenda on multiple fronts. We're going to keep opening markets one way or another.
ATO GETACHEW: I am a little bit sad when I see people totally depending on foreign aid. Because we are teaching our children, children are learning something - that is begging. Instead of becoming self-helping through their own production - they are learning something which is negative for their own futurity. So I am not happy when I see this and I don't know what we should do. We should find ways and means to which these peoples' problems can be alleviated.
WOMAN: This feeds my family for 15 days.
TADESSE MESKELA [English with subtitles]: My hope is to get new contacts. And seeing is believing. I will allow them to taste coffees at the Ethiopian booth and I will also give them, I do have free samples, take away samples of different coffees; Harar, Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Nekemte coffees. And they will take them back home, roast it and then cup and see the difference.
MAN: It's really quite easy, they have also split the top panel now so you can look in and see what's going on in the brew unit, the side panel comes off, five screws, three molex plugs and the brew unit pulls out.
MAN: Coffee, coffee, buzz, buzz. There she goes.
MAN: Gorgeous bag.
MAN: Little, two and a half , two ounce bag up to a three pound bag.
TADESSE MESKELA: Limu, we do have... OK.
MAN: Pleased to meet you.
TADESSE MESKELA: Thank you so much.
TADESSE MESKELA: Harar, you take this one also.
MAN: How are you doing?
CHAIRMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: I welcome you all. We wanted to discuss some problems with you.
You all know Mr Tadesse Meskela. He represents the union selling our coffee to the outside world; he is also trying to get a better price for our coffee. Within one year of his involvement we have seen changes.
TADESSE MESKELA [foreign language with subtitles]: This money is given to you from the profit obtained from the fair trade market. All the money from the profit should be used for social development in your area, like building schools, health centres and clean water.
CHAIRMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: We have agreed that the first priority is to build a school in this area, for our children. However, we don't have enough money to build a decent school.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: When children are at a school
age it's the responsibility of parents to send them to school but we don't
have a school in our area and this has been a problem for a long time.
Yet an educated person is good for himself, his family and the whole country.
FARMER [foreign language with subtitles]: But if we consult with our leaders, we can also use our co-operative money from the reserves. We can also contribute from our own pockets. Even if I don't have any money, I can sell my shirt and give the money so that my children can learn and for my country to grow.
CHAIRMAN [foreign language with subtitles]: Okay, then we should pass a resolution to use more money for the construction of a new school.
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