By UW School of Public Health
In the United States, about 150 million people drink an average of three cups of coffee every day. A new course at the University of Washington School of Public Health challenges students to think about where that coffee comes from and how the world commodity moves from bean to brew.
“We’re exposing students to a single ingredient, coffee, so they can better understand it as consumers and connoisseurs,” said Anne-Marie Gloster, a lecturer in the School’s Department of Epidemiology and Nutritional Sciences Program. “By examining coffee from cultivation, processing and through to brewing, we’re creating a stronger awareness of the food system and the people that bring us this one beverage.”
Throughout the course, called Coffee: From Cultivation to Cupping, which began Sept. 28, students use coffee as “a lens to look at global health, international development, the economy and the environment, as well as social justice issues such as fair pay and gender inequality,” Gloster says. “We’re also covering the nutritional and health benefits of coffee.”
Students hear from voices in the field, including producers in Nicaragua, processors in Seattle and public health professionals in Kenya. Michael Chung, an associate professor of global health, joined the class virtually from Nairobi to talk about the health status and health care access of coffee workers.
“Many coffee farmers from around the world live in resource-limited settings under challenging health conditions,” says Chung, who provides cervical cancer screening to female coffee growers. (Read the full story.) “It’s helpful for us to learn more about where the food we value so much comes from and how we can help those who help us stay awake every day.”