Visiting origin or any farm is an opportunity to learn something new. Every farmer and every producer will always be proud and honoured if you take an interest in their work. With this in mind here are a few of my tips for you when visiting coffee farms.
Take plenty of pictures. You never know what picture you will need for what blog post or book or training class. Bring a good quality camera and several SD memory cards. Each evening back up your memory card to an online cloud or other device just in case
Bring a notepad. This is where the journalist comes out in you. When you take pictures of people, write down who is in the photo and a brief description of the shot. It will add authenticity to the image and in time (depending on social media opportunities) you will also be able to tag these images online. You will also build up a bank of people and names and faces for future use.
Get into the shot. Get a picture of you with the farmer, on the farm. You never know you may end up buying from this farm in years to come and a stock shot is always a good endorsement of your trip and your experience.
Keep notes. Every evening take 30 minutes to write a summary of your day, regardless of what everyone else is doing and recount your steps. This is VITAL. So much happens on an origin trip you will forget all the little things and you will be glad you wrote daily notes
Don't throw out anything. It may be a room key or a small bill for coffee in a little cafe. Keep everything during your trip and use the receipts with your daily notes to piece your story together.
Sit at the front. The front seats on the bus or coach always have the best view and big clear windows for taking pictures. Its also where the discussions are about where to next and whats on the agenda for the rest of the trip
Travel with the farmers. On many of the farms we visited we were shuffled into jeeps or buggys. In some instances we were let take a buggy ourselves and follow in convoy. By sitting beside the farmers you get to ask questions about the terrain and plantations. Sometimes they are carrying our trial plantations and new methods of growing. you will only hear these explanations by sitting with the farm owners. Be assertive and act quickly. Take the best seat and ask loads of questions. Youn might never be back there.
Bring a gift. If there is a particular farm you are going to visit or even stay with, bring a gift. Something from your country and get a picture of you giving the gift to the host.
Follow up. When you return be sure to follow up with farms and farmers whom you have visited. Send them the picture you took at the farm with your name and contact details and build your relationship with them. It may be a tentative link now but you never know where it will go.
Be prepared. A trip to origin is hard work. It usually involves slow bus rides, long journeys on under developed roads, long hours on coaches and a lot of walking around farms. Bring correct footwear (walking boots), extra socks, suncream, mosquito cream, anti-histamines, painkillers and anything else you can think of like rehydrating sachets (diuralite) and foot cream.