I love coffee. And I'm not talking about your double-half-caff-latte-with-a-twist. I'm talking black coffee, nothing in it. Why drown the taste with sugar and cream? Isn't that like dumping ice cubes in your Pinot Noir? I've been grinding my own beans and brewing my own coffee for years. I know which brands I like, and I try to buy 'Fair Trade' when I can. But ultimately what I really know about coffee could only fill about half a cup.
That's where the new documentary Black Gold, now in limited release, comes in. First-time filmmakers (and brothers) Marc and Nick Francis travel the world over to capture images of coffee plantations, coffee farmers and loving hands carefully caressing piles of unroasted beans. But if this were merely a documentary about the process of bean fields-to-Starbucks, it wouldn't be playing in theaters. No, Black Gold is actually the year's 1000th passive political documentary about how horrible the world is. In Ethiopia, where some of the the finest coffee in the world is harvested, farmers get the equivalent of pennies per sack, whereas, halfway around the world, Westerners pay up to three dollars per cup. Fortunately the film didn't make me feel guilty enough to give up coffee, and it does offer a small, simple response -- if not a solution -- available to nearly anyone in this country.