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Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee Paperback – October 17, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This surprisingly gripping travelogue is filled with tales from the "coffeelands," barely-on-the-map locales in Africa, the Americas, and Asia where coffee farmers struggle to survive. Written with knowledge and good cheer by the founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee, the book reads more like a trippy adventure than a business trip, though the issues Cycon raises are vital, prescient and little known ("99 percent of the people involved in coffee... have never been to a coffee village"). While learning first-hand about the hardships involved in growing and selling coffee beans-the world's second most valuable commodity, after oil-the author finds himself in Guatemala praying to an effigy in a Mickey Mouse tie and cowboy boots; eating armadillo leg in Colombia; working to heal landmine victims in Nicaragua and war widows in Sumatra; and meeting with all manner of farmers, bureaucrats and dignitaries. His dispatches are highly enlightening, demonstrating how few national governments provide coffee growers with water, education, health care or even protection from harmful pesticides; further, coffee growers' income is subject to the whims of financial speculators half a world away. Reading this eye-opening book, it's impossible not to reconsider-and feel grateful for-the myriad people behind your morning cup.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review-

This surprisingly gripping travelogue is filled with tales from the "coffeelands," barely-on-the-map locales in Africa, the Americas, and Asia where coffee farmers struggle to survive. Written with knowledge and good cheer by the founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee, the book reads more like a trippy adventure than a business trip, though the issues Cycon raises are vital, prescient and little known ("99 percent of the people involved in coffee... have never been to a coffee village"). While learning first-hand about the hardships involved in growing and selling coffee beans-the world's second most valuable commodity, after oil-the author finds himself in Guatemala praying to an effigy in a Mickey Mouse tie and cowboy boots; eating armadillo leg in Colombia; working to heal landmine victims in Nicaragua and war widows in Sumatra; and meeting with all manner of farmers, bureaucrats and dignitaries. His dispatches are highly enlightening, demonstrating how few national governments provide coffee growers with water, education, health care or even protection from harmful pesticides; further, coffee growers' income is subject to the whims of financial speculators half a world away. Reading this eye-opening book, it's impossible not to reconsider-and feel grateful for-the myriad people behind your morning cup.



"Who would have thought that a cup of coffee contained World Bank schemes, indigenous rights, third world women's empowerment and a wide range of globalization issues? Dean Cycon reveals the worlds within worlds of coffee that have to make us think about the choices we make at the supermarket or café."--Susan Sarandon, actress and activist



"Coffee is more than just a drink. It is about politics, survival, the earth and the lives of indigenous peoples. Dean Cycon has been involved with indigenous rights, in coffee and in the larger sphere, for the twenty-seven years I have known him. He has a rich knowledge of the people and places of coffee, and knows how to tell our stories in a sensitive, insightful and often humorous way. Javatrekker is a great book for anyone who wants to know what is really going on in their morning cup."--Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureate and author of I, Rigoberta Menchu and Crossing Borders



"Dean Cycon is a born storyteller. . . and he has some extraordinary stories to tell in Javatrekker. Dean is the rare individual who possesses a keen intellect, quick wit, without the taint of cynicism or world-weariness. He's a rebel and a trailblazer with a deep passion for the fundamental causes of fairness, freedom, and environmentalism. Javatrekker is a great read because it is, first and foremost, entertaining in the swashbuckling style of Anthony Bourdain or Jack Kerouac. But Dean's stories possess a depth of spirit and a love for his subjects that many adventure writers lack. And his core subject-coffee-is so universally familiar (and yet little-understood) that I believe his potential audience is enormous."--Stephen Braun, author of the award-winning Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine



"Dean is truly a singular character in the world of coffee roasters. He takes an intense interest in knowing the origins of his coffee. While most roasters and importers brag about their 'Third World' experiences, Dean travels to the 'Fourth World,' getting down and dirty with the indigenous groups growing the coffees, way out beyond where most folks will go. He is embraced universally by these groups and hailed as a true brother. His visits to these locations and his ability to bring these coffees to the U.S. market and pay Fair Trade pricing to the growers has brought large scale economic recovery to thousands of small coffee farmers around the world."--John Cossette, Royal Coffee, Inc.



"It's not often that a book with great politics is also a great read. Dean Cycon puts a face and a story in each cup of coffee I will ever drink. This is a book for anyone who loves coffee as well as anyone who wants to know the real life stories behind those who provide us with this second-most-traded commodity after oil. Dean Cycon is an informed, lively, straight-shooting guide. I've always been grateful to him for the work he has done to bring a conscience to coffee. Now I can add my gratitude for the stories he tells so vividly and powerfully in Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee."--Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and A Cafecito Story



"Dean Cycon's experience has ranged from Native communities in North America to the depths of the oceans and remote coffee producing villages and communities internationally. Cycon's analysis and experience, as well as his humorous and engaging style, promise to bring stories to the light of day that would not and could not be told, simply because no one else has his range of experience. Coffee is god to many of us in the morning, and yet, we know so little about its history and present issues. Linking coffee drinkers to the communities is the work of Dean Cycon in an animated, vital and forever engaging manner. Javatrekker promises to be a set of stories, adventures and compelling relationships told for all of us to eagerly read."--Winona LaDuke, indigenous rights activist, author of All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life and Recovering the Sacred

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; First Edition edition (October 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933392703
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933392707
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joao Leao on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
In remarkably few decades Fair Trade went, from a simple and hopeful idea, to a 2.3 billion dollar business! This unprecedented success owes much to the wit, the persistence and devotion of a handful of activists such as Dean Cycon. But unlike many of his fellow travelers who concentrate on improving the palate and the social conscience of western consumers, Dean sees Fair Trade as a vehicle for much more profound changes in the lives of the coffee producers. Accordingly, he concentrates his efforts in reaching out to the cooperatives from which he buys his organic beans and shares his profits directly with them in the form of infrastructure investments such as water wells and local schools and, far more than that, with his tireless concern and the effervescent warmth of his presence.

In "Javatrekker" Dean collects some of the many charming memoirs of his incessant globetrotting through the coffee lands in a style which both emulates and evokes the very story telling traditions which inhabit these regions. He calls these accounts, quite accurately, "dispatches" since most of the local situations he describes are evolving from dire to hopeful and will obviously require updates beyond the ones he provides. Through Dean's recollections we are introduced to a number of colorful characters, literally sages and saints, idols and heroes, traders and tricksters from all corners of the world but, more than anything, these are people engaged in bettering their lives and those of their kin peacefully and joyfully. Their stories range from the humorous to the tragic, but Dean always manages to describe their struggles with the touching note that conveys to the alert reader that these are hardly any different in their dreams and aspiration from those one meets on our everyday.
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This book is amazing! Dean Cycon is amazing! I've seen "Fair Trade" coffee in stores but until I read "Javatrekker," I hadn't grasped the magnitude of the problems so many coffee farmers face. Dean Cycon is on a mission...his dedication to help poor coffee farmers improve their lives is remarkable. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize! If you read this book and you possess an ounce of compassion for humanity, you will never buy non-Fair Trade coffee again. I highly recommend this book. It is entertaining, educational and inspirational.
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This book is an interesting travelogue through some of the world's poorest communities that also produce coffee. While it certainly gets into some of the efforts to improve conditions for the producers, the book does not really try to make the case for Fair Trade coffee in any meaningful way. Rather, it tells the story of one person's experiences in some of the faraway places our coffee comes from and puts faces on some of the obscure foreign names we see on the labels of our coffee beans.

I walked away from this book feeling more in touch with my daily cup of coffee, thankful for the efforts of the farmers, and hopeful that their lives are improving. I did not, however, come away with a substantially improved understanding of Fair Trade coffee or why I should purchase fair trade beans over the beans I already purchase. I bought the book expecting to learn about the industry and was a little disappointed in that respect.

With that understanding, Javatrekker is a fantastic book that gives us a glimpse into the lives of the coffee farmers and leaves the reader with a deep sense of appreciation for their morning cup of joe.
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There is a reason Dean just won a Nobel Prize!
I have to admit that I am biased since Dean is local to my community. But he did get a Nobel Prize. So it isn't just us local people who think he has done great things!
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Coffee is more than just another drink: it's about politics, survival, and indigenous people - and Javatrekker is the perfect guide to the politics, culture and meaning of coffee. From Fair Trade business issues to adventure travel, anthropology and politics, JAVATREKKER surveys the peoples, customs and trade of coffee around the world in an invigorating, moving account recommended for any general-interest collection and in particular for college-level libraries strong in world economics.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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I learned nothing about Fair Trade,but I sure learned a lot about Dean and how grateful the many cultures of the world are to Dean, for being Dean. I thought the writing was fairly poor, the self absorbed, self congratulatory "storytelling" was over the top and I didn't even think it was a very good travelogue. I've read many better books about coffee and the effect that the systems that are in place have on the farmers. I couldn't even get all the way through the book. I was really disappointed.
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You don't need to be labeled a social entrepreneur to be one. After all the origins of the word corporation is in the sense of a body of people. A social activity, albeit with economic ends. Dean Cycon is a social entrepreneur, but nonetheless an entrepreneur - someone who 'undertakes' something to achieve an end. This book is very special in that the author's journeys round the coffee producing parts of the world take you deeply into what fair trade means. He exemplifies what it means for someone to live their values and he is playing his part in changing the world.

As a young man I always swore that I would never go into business. That changed quite soon after getting engaged to be married and carrying on being a second-hand book buyer in London. A reliable income had me into business, but very soon I concluded that a business was simply a social organization with specific aims. Now, what's interesting is that most new enterprises have implicit or explicit social ends. Whether they label themselves as a social enterprise, a benefit corporation or one of several new corporate forms,

The book is an important milestone in writing about entrepreneurs, in Dean's case autobiographically. His life and business are inspirational and I know that many of my MBA entreprenurship and strategy students have been inspired by Dean's Beans. Of course now there are many others who tell stories about coffee growing like Julia Alvarez in A Cafecito Story, but Dean's storytelling is particularly powerful as he introduces us to coffee farmers all over the world.
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