About When Coffee Speaks

Rachel’s first time picking coffee. With Sonia on her family’s farm in Turrialba, Costa Rica.

From September 2012-June 2013, Rachel lived and worked in the coffeelands of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia, recording interviews with more than 85 coffeepeople. Her experiences and understandings are recorded in the early posts of this blog.

In October 2013, Rachel self-published the resulting compilation “When Coffee Speaks: Stories from and of Latin American Coffeepeople” , a choose-your-own-adventure ethnography, with McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers of New York.

Since those first months on the ground, Rachel has been a regular contributor to Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, Fresh Cup Magazine and other trade publications, where her articles address trends at Latin American origins, certification and sustainability, climate change, and other coffee industry concerns. Links to published articles at rachelnorthrop.com

Please reach out with comments or questions via the comments box below.


  1. Being an avid lover of coffee, I was consumed with your story. Wow, you’re a pretty amazing person to follow the java road less followed. I’m going to go on and peruse around your blog. Thank you for caring so much as to invest a chunk of your life. Not many people are so brave…

  2. Hi Rachel, A family member forwarded me your blog because … I owned a coffee farm in Costa Rica with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Small but special for a guy originally from Brooklyn NY. Feel free to contact me if it might be helpful to your project. All the best. Steven

  3. Really, really cool. I’m impressed by your sense of adventure. The world needs more people who are looking for “holes” and to make a difference like you.

  4. I have no interest in coffee (yuck!), but I think what you are doing is pretty fascinating, and very cool. I hope you’re enjoying Panama – it’s a fun country.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Buying things that are certified Fair Trade is one important step in the right direction, but if we do go places ourselves, how we spend our money while there gives us the chance to leap several bounds forward towards paying people living wage for the work they do.

  5. I really like that you are taking this initiative in your life. I wish I could be of more help in your adventure. Do let me know by e-mail or call me to see what could be spoken of. Thanks for reaching out to me. Best,

    Marco Antonio SORIANO

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