Coffee has played a major role in the lives of many people around the world. “Yet, poetic as its taste may be, coffee’s history is rife with controversy and politics…[becoming a] creator of revolutionary sedition in Arab countries and in Europe” (Pendergrast xvi). After reading Uncommon Grounds, it is apparent that the history of coffee is intertwined with the aspects of the globalization process, the role of Multi-National Corporations, and global economic issues.
The coffee industry has proven there is a never-ending shift of global power through the global economy. Thus, through the history of coffee, it is apparent that factors involving the globalization process such as absolute advantage and comparative advantage have had an impact on the coffee industry. Although coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, “it was only a matter of time until the drink spread through trade with the Arabs” (5) and eventually spreading to all parts of the world. This specific industry was very attractive to other countries that had the substantial climatic aspects or effective companies to establish this prosperous business. As technology became more advanced, transportation expanded rapidly throughout the world, thus spreading the word of this special drink. In addition, transporting coffee became easier, quicker, and more efficient. Pendergrast asserts that right before the start of the twentieth century, “a pattern of worldwide boom and bust commenced” (xvii).
While the globalization process is significant to coffee, so are the roles of MNCs. “Some people see the multinational…[corporation] as the main actor in the globalization process which in itself reflects the core meaning of the information society” thus a multi-national corporation“ ‘makes material the culture of the informational, global economy: it transforms signals into commodities by processing knowledge’” (Forsgren 2). Many multinational corporations in the coffee industry have succeeded tremendously such as Starbucks. Each of these corporations has strategies that helped them continue to expand to nations of different cultures, ethnicities, governmental practices, and locations.
Finally, global economic issues have an immense influence on the world of coffee. Throughout history there has been a pattern that coffee producing countries are economically worse off than those that are consuming the coffee. Pendergrast mentions that “in 1950 the average income in consuming countries was three times that of coffee-growing nations. By the late 1960s it was five times great” (270). With that said, many producing coffee countries were facing endemics and malnourished peoples because workers were receiving absurdly low wages thus placing them into poverty and human suffering (271). Specifically, although 90 percent of El Salvador’s exports consisted of coffee in the 1930s, they agonized from “‘low wages, incredible filth…[under] conditions in fact not far removed from slavery’” (168). Global economic...