Stories on a String


Hi, lovely to see you here! 

This is a journal with stories about;

coffee, people, nature, climate, transformation, research, dreams and hopes.

I am Milda, and this is my PhD project. 



The Coffee Story

In simplest terms coffee is just a berry; but it is a powerful berry. It is a natural resource, but it is much more than that too. 

Coffee is grown, traded and consumed by people, it can therefore not be detached from people. 



25 million people farm coffee for a living, many more consume it.

Coffee connects the world, it connects the farmers to the drinkers, the poor to the rich, the sub-tropical to the arctic. It connects businesses, countries, and cultures.

Yet, as much as the value chain connects, it also detaches people, places, values, and potential from one other.  



Yields are dropping in a changing climate, making coffee supply unstable and jeopardising livelihoods for millions of farmers. 

The Arabica varietal is the tastier option, but it is also the more sensitive one. Half the areas suitable for Arabica coffee now will not be able to produce it in 2050 due to climate change.



I do not think the market is a neutral place that simply sets the price based on demand and supply. It is so much more than that. 

The market is made by different actors and what they value; it is created by the thousands of choices and coincidences that result in exactly that cup of coffee in your hands.  

New collaborations are popping up in the coffee market. They are attempting to tackle the combination of an unethical trade legacy, increasing demand for quality, transparency, and a rapidly changing climate.



The Research Story

So what is the story of this one specific value chain aiming to produce quality coffee and create community transformation in Burundi?

Finding unique examples of people that believe creating positive change among endless challenges is possible has always inspired me. So I did my research by interning for such coffee people and observed life along the way. I wanted to learn if what they do impacts coffee farmers' ability to adapt to climate change. I found that and so much more. 



The Change Story

Lastly, as interesting as coffee is, it is simply a platform to understand how we relate to change.

At the core of it all, we will have to change drastically in order stop climate change from escalating. We all want a thriving planet with thriving people. But we don't like to change, change is scary, even when we know we need to, even when we want to.  

What can the story of coffee teach us about changing under challenging conditions? That is is possible, that is is hard, but beautiful and rewarding.