Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coffee vs. Tea Parties

As many of my friends, students, and colleagues know, I have become quite interested in the geography of coffee in recent years. In just the past few months, I have also been studying tea, as I prepare to write a two-volume book about the geography of both beverages. For me, that geography extends all the way from the growing regions -- mainly in low-latitude/high-altitude regions in developing countries -- to the corner coffee and tea shops throughout the world.

Because of my interest in these beverages and how the shops can relate to sense of place -- and because I am a bit of a political junkie -- I have been very interested in the growing use of the beverages in political discourse. It started with the Tea Party movement on the right, which has now generated the center-left Coffee Party. Ironically, though both beverages have long been associated with good conversation, only one of these movements has been genuinely interested in dialog and community-building. This CNN story is a good description of the counter-movement. (Pun intended.)

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