Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Coffee Means to Me

Andres is one of the deep thinkers in my class. He is also trying to teach me to get his jokes. I am far too literal - but I'm working on it! Andres tries to explain the difference between what the every day meaning of "coffee" and "coffee" here in El Salvador.

Coffee was much more than just a product; it was known to influence our economy in previous years. The two-syllable, six lettered word began to be grown in the beginning of the 19th century. It started to contribute to the economy and immerge as a main export at the beginning of the 20th century. This manufactured good shaped and augmented our economy. It also acted as a catalyst in El Salvador’s exponential growth in the economy during the 1940’s.

Although the economy benefited immensely from this staple crop, coffee’s decline in value, and the monopolization of this crop from a number of companies, affected El Salvador negatively. It radically changed the country’s dependence on coffee as a main source of income, and left numerous “cafetaleros” (coffee plantations owners) unemployed. As a result, the country opted for other sources of profit, in attempt to reshape the country’s economy.

Now that you are “experts” on this topic, I would like to tell you what coffee means to me as a Salvadorian. When I say coffee, much more comes to mind than the delectable hot cappuccinos or cold frappes known to the majority of us. Coffee is much more than just a number or a date in our history. It is much more than a source of income or profit to a variety of people. Coffee is something that has carved our history.

Coffee is everywhere these days. The problem is that when the majority of people hear the word coffee, the universal meaning comes to mind, whether it is a pleasant moment of relaxation or an energy drink. But when I hear this word, I think about how much coffee has helped shaped our country. It has helped us craft our identity into what this country is today. And although I struggle to see beyond superficial meanings, I believe you can also understand coffee’s importance in El Salvador. So wake up people; it’s time to ponder!


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