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Getting high on Coffee

Altitude, altitude and more altitude. Growing the best coffee in the world almost always involves planting your crops at altitudes around 1400-1600 meters. Which means if you plan on taking a gig photographing a coffee harvest, you're in for an interesting ride. The images in this article are taken in Guatemala and El Salvador.

During harvest, the cherries are picked by hand and loaded into baskets, the baskets are dumped into sacks and the sacks are carried down from the mountain. The coffee is then sorted by hand to remove the unripe cherries. If you've ever been hiking on a mountain trail you know it's hard enough to carry your own butt up and down the mountain, now imagine carrying an additional 50+ lbs. I was truly amazed and admittedly a bit emasculated by how effortless they made it seem.

I remember a time when I would grab a large red can out of my fridge plop two scoops of the brown stuff into the filter holder, throw some water into the machine, flick the switch and poof, hot cup o' joe. That was a much simpler time. But once you've visited the place where all of this begins, it changes you – well at least it changed me. To witness first hand how much care goes into producing your morning joe something else may happen. First, you usually stop referring to it as "joe", then you may obsess over how to make it taste like it did while you were in coffee country. Admittedly, after a few of these trips my coffee routine has become increasingly complicated but once you've had a truly great cup of coffee you can never go back.

You can find the rest of this series in the portfolio section under Documentary.


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