Half Time Reading: Coffee + Football
With the World Cup in full swing, Best Coffee decided to take a look at coffee and sport’s unique history together. This is a topic that is not talked about too often, so we consulted a man that has worked in both industries, Alex Stewart. Alex does strategy and makes content for Tifo Football and was previously Best Coffee’s Editor in Chief. He sat down with Best Coffee’s Adam Leightman to discuss the connection between football and coffee.
Alex easily proved his knowledge in both football and coffee. First up, we discussed coffee, Alex explained that he likes to brew his own coffee, if he has time, and that a flat white is his go to coffee shop order. And as for his football knowledge, he is picking Uruguay to win the World Cup (if Cavani stays fit), and reluctantly, on Team Ronaldo in the ongoing debate vs Messi. I, on the other hand, have Croatia as my winner and am on Team Messi, even though he has struggled thus far.
We started by talking about one of the homes of both coffee and football, Brazil. Both were imported into Brazil, with coffee coming in 1757 and football in the 1880s. The culture between the two have been mixed since they arrived. Coffee gave Brazil a strong economy, and when an economy is strong, recreational activities, such as football, tend to grow in a community. Sao Paulo AC and CA Paulistano were both founded by coffee importers with coffee money. CA Paulistano is now Sao Paulo Football Club, which is one of the most successful and historical clubs in Brazil. That club would not exist without coffee.
As an American, I was disappointed when the national team did not qualify for Russia. However, that will only be a small speed bump in the popularity growth of the game. The speciality coffee scene appears to be growing at a rapid pace as well. When you think of speciality coffee in the states, you can name New York, but truly the Pacific Northwest has the best coffee scene in America. Cities such as Portland and Seattle have become coffee capitals of America, and they are also known to have two of the most passionate and largest fan bases for Major League Soccer. Is there a direct correlation between the two? Hard to tell, but it is worth acknowledging how the two are rising together in the same cities.
In Africa, the coffee scene and football clubs have been mixed as well. Let's start in Ethiopia. Two clubs are directly tied with the coffee community. Ethiopian Coffee Football Club (ECFC) and Sidamo Coffee Football Club are both run by coffee farms. ECFC was founded in 1976 and run by the company until 1995 when they were sold. The new owners decided to keep the name due to the history of the club. In Rwanda, HasBean is a sponsor for CSJB. However, the most intriguing story of them all come out of Malawi.
Alex told me about his journey to Malawi. Alex travelled to Mzuzu, sponsored by IronClad, a coffee roaster. In Mzuzu, the Chigoli Academy was created to give an escape to boys and girls. They are provided an education, as well as football training. IronClad see a great opportunity with the Academy; they believe it will help grow a town that has such an important part in the coffee industry. The academy is giving children an opportunity that is not available anywhere else in the country. They are football focused, but the educational opportunities that they also provide will be beneficial in the long run for the coffee farms surrounding the area.
Coffee and football have two different histories. However, as we have discovered, those histories have crossed and shown how well they can work together. A massive thanks to Alex Stewart for helping make this article a possibility. Make sure to check out TIFO Football and subscribe to their channel on Youtube.