PhotoVoice Project

Coffee is the life blood of the modern world, and probably has been seen the birth of civilization. Coffee’s heritage can even be traced back to the ancient plateaus of Ethiopia (, 2017). The actual cultivation and trade of coffee began in the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th-16th century, coffee became was known as the Wine of Arabia (, 2017). Coffee arrived in Europe in the 17th century and quickly gained popularity across the continent (, 2017). In England, coffee houses were referred to as Penny Universities, because of the low cost of the beverage and the interesting conversation that could always be found there (, 2017). Finally, once coffee had reached the British colonies that later became the United States and the events of the Boston Tea Party took place, coffee quickly became the American drink of choice (, 2017).

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson


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To answer my first question, “What choices do I have?” Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. There are lots of companies to buy from, and many sources of coffee beans (, 2011). Conversely, despite all the different flavors of coffee that is advertised, there are actually only two types of coffee (, 2011). The two types of coffee bean are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica makes up about 70% of all coffee beans sold and Robusta, which is cheaper, is typically used in instant coffee (, 2011).



My second question is “Who’s selling me what?” In the US, there is really only five top brands that dominate the market: Keurig, Folgers, Starbucks, Maxwell House and Dunkin’ Donuts (, 2015). Of course, there are many independent coffee brands in the market, but none of them come close to the leading five. Besides that, they most likely buy their coffee from the same distributors or producers. Here is a list of top 10 coffee producing countries (, 2016).:

Rank                           Country                                           Coffee Produced in Kilograms

10                                Guatemala                                                    224,871 US tons

9                                  Mexico                                                           257,940 US tons

8                                  Uganda                                                          314,489 US tons

7                                  Honduras                                                      380,296 US tons

6                                  India                                                               385,786 US tons

5                                  Ethiopia                                                         432,287 US tons

4                                  Indonesia                                                      814,629 US tons

3                                  Colombia                                                       892,871 US tons

2                                  Vietnam                                                         1,818,811 US tons

1                                  Brazil                                                              2,859,502 US tons



Coffee is a $100 billion industry, second only to oil (, 2011). I found it interesting to learn that there are only two kinds of coffee bean, even though coffee is made out to be more diverse by coffee companies. Per the National Association of Coffee USA, Arabica beans are grown at very high altitudes, between 3600-6300 feet above sea level, and are the best beans to be used in coffee beverages.


As a consumer and a coffee enthusiast, it is good to know that Brazilian Arabica coffee beans are the best on the market. Thankfully, Brazilian Arabica coffee is also the most common, which means that it all comes down to how the beans are roasted, which I’m sure is considered some form of a trade secret because I could not find any information on how exactly it is that so many companies, like Starbucks and D&M, can have so much variation in flavor.

The photos used for this project were more artistic in nature, rather than informative. However, they server their purpose since coffee is more artistic than anything else. In a lot of ways coffee’s trade craft resembles that of the beer industry, and it seems to carry a similar narrative with it as well. These photos help to illustrate the majestic beauty of coffee; they capture the exquisite light as it is reflects off the many forms of coffee, unleashing feelings of bliss and happiness. I can accredit these photos to, which is a free license, open source, online photo data base.



Goldschein, E. (2011, November 14). 11 Incredible Facts About The Global Coffee Industry. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

The History of Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

Szenthe, A. (2015, March 08). Top Coffee Producing Countries. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

Groden, C. (2015, September 29). Here Are the 5 Top-selling Coffee Brands. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

Free high quality photos · Pexels. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from


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