What’s in your cup matters.

What’s in your cup matters.

Posted on November 14 2017, By: Don Cox

What’s in your cup matters.

by Jaleigh Jensen

On Old 421, nestled up against the Appalachian mountains, there’s a green warehouse building that doubles as a gym, storage unit, retired road-sign collection, and coffee roastery. 

This old bald guy owns it. He calls it “Bald Guy Brew.”

Don Cox, Founder and Owner of Bald Guy Brew is a dreamer, a reformist, and a coffee enthusiast all in one. He always wears this beat-up ball cap with the North Carolina state’s shape embroidered with the word “home.” He’s not from here, but because his story is so integrated in mountains all over the world, this feels like home to him too. 

And it’s in this warehouse, on the backside of the Blue Ridges, where Don is rooting his business in advocacy for the local Appalachian community, farmers around the world, and the one planet we all call home. 

Don’s work is so much more than serving America’s caffeine addiction. Every bean, every roast, and every cup are so deeply connected with his love of mountains, people, and doing good. 

But like many coffee consumers, Don has been looking at the climate crisis’s impending doom on our morning cup. Because of its dense carbon footprint, coffee is likely to be threatened by climate change the most in terms of global production. We know the highest rate of deforestation occurs in coffee-growing countries. But why?

According to Don, it’s because the farmer can’t get paid a fair wage per kilo. They’re forced to capitalize on the land and cut down trees to plant more coffee. Not to mention the chemicals used to produce a bigger harvest because mass production is the only way to support themselves fully. 

But with this rapid expansion and over-farming, researchers at Johns Hopkins have predicted that 60 percent of the land used for coffee production will become unsuitable for farming by 2050. 

The demand for coffee isn’t going anywhere, but neither is the climate crisis. A closer look shows us that to resolve the effects of climate change on our morning coffee, we must first better the conditions of the farmers who ensure our cups are filled. The most significant difference we as coffee drinkers can make is paying farmers their total worth. And Don’s focus on advocacy will allow farmers to make a living wage so that human and natural exploitation ceases to exist. 

“What’s in your cup matters,” Don said. 

And so here Don is, right in the Blue Ridge Mountains, bringing passion and ethics to the science of coffee. It’s the lifeblood he chooses to commit to every day: social change, radical reformation, environmental advocacy, and a good old cup of coffee. 

What’s in your cup matters.