Annabel really does have a Phd in coffee. Her coffee career really started during her days as an Anthropology undergraduate at Durham University, UK, where she developed an interest in the idea of ‘food as culture’, and after some amazing experiences in Peru and Nicaragua, also a love of Latin America. She worked in coffee shops while finishing her Masters, and that experience inspired an academic study of coffee. She was lucky enough to have this project accepted as a PhD research proposal by the University of Sheffield in 2007. The coffee doctorate began!
More broadly, her PhD was in Human Geography, and focused on the links between quality and waste in the specialty coffee industry, and about the political effects of such a globalised industry. She studied various ideas of what ‘quality’ means to different people at different stages of coffee production, and worked with coffee farmers in Central America, large and small roasting companies and chain and independent coffee shops in the UK. This research took her all over the world, from Barista Championship competitions in London and Edinburgh, to the World Coffee Conference in Guatemala City in 2010 and fieldwork on plantations in Nicaragua and Costa Rica during 2008-9. She has presented her research at national and international conferences and contributed to an expert research panel for Starbucks. Annabel submitted her thesis in December 2011 and a version of her work is now available as a book.
Now based in Regina, Annabel is still just as passionate about coffee as she was ten years ago. Coffee is the second largest legally traded in the commodity in the world, and the industry as a whole, from farmers to baristas, employs over 20 million people all over the world. For us, it’s a welcome addiction, a career and a wonderfully dark love affair.