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The Birth of Coffee Pours Out Origins of Global Coffee Culture

Photographic exhibition opens October 2 at Discovery Place

September 25, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC – For 500 million coffee drinkers worldwide, the rich aroma of a daily cup of coffee is an expected and habitual part of their everyday routine. But before coffee beans can be imported, ground and brewed, they are cared for and cultivated by an estimated 25 million people across the planet whose often arduous daily work ensures the steady drip of one of the world’s most popular beverages.

The Birth of Coffee, an exhibition of words and photographic images opening October 2 at Discovery Place and sponsored by S&D Coffee and Tea, focuses on the people across the world who grow and produce coffee, often in small hillside villages using dated methods. It captures the global stories of the intense and often difficult growing techniques, in the process illuminating the science and the diverse human experience behind the daily cup. Based on author Linda Rice Lorenzetti and photographer Daniel Lorenzetti’s book of the same name, The Birth of Coffee travels a quarter of a million miles across four continents from the old Dutch plantations of Sumatra to the mountains of Costa Rica.

“While we may enjoy it as part of our daily ritual, we don’t often look beyond our lattes to think about the ways science influences coffee production,” said John Mackay, president and CEO, Discovery Place. “From agricultural techniques to the environment to the people behind the process, this exhibition is a fantastic visual representation of how those coffee beans reach your cup.”

As coffee trees grow and are cared for, they produce white flowers with “cherries” containing a seed called the coffee bean. Cherries are harvested and cultivated and then categorized by color, weight and size to be bagged and prepared for international export. And with the popularity of coffee-based drinks skyrocketing and the debut of coffee blenders, roasters and other technology, the evolving personally-crafted coffee beverage continues to heighten demand for the dark brew.

“I think that when most people sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning they don’t understand what it takes to get that coffee to the table,” says author Linda Rice Lorenzetti. “It’s important to make those connections and hopefully this project does that,” said exhibition photographer Daniel Lorenzetti.

Among the 40 coffee-tinted images with narrative text in the exhibition:

• The Coffee Ceremony, Ethiopia – Coffee is indigenous to the Ethiopian culture and a centuries-old tradition dictates the steps this Ethiopian woman follows: first roasting the beans, then preparing the coffee and lighting itan, a myrrh incense, while waiting for it to brew.

• The Transaction, Yemen – Coffee is strictly in the male realm in Yemen. Whether transporting coffee to market, pulping, winnowing, weighing, measuring, buying or selling – the industry is exclusively composed of men conducting business with other men.

• In the Trees, Costa Rica – It is not by chance that school vacation coincides with the coffee harvest in Costa Rica. The Fiesta de Café is a time of hard work in which the community and entire families participate and there are often celebrations.

“There is a moving story of relatedness in these pictures. Millions of people are involved in growing, harvesting, and caring for the coffee we love so much and this exhibition reminds us of our connection,” said Tracy Ging, director of sustainability & corporate social responsibility, S&D Coffee and Tea. “Our business is about people–from those who grow our products, those we employ, and to those we serve–and this event is one way we can honor some of those people.”

The Birth of Coffee is on display at Discovery Place October 2, 2012 – January 7, 2013. For more information about the exhibition visit discoveryplace.org or birthofcoffee.com.

About The Image Expedition and The Birth of Coffee

The Image Expedition imageexedition.com is a not for profit documentary organization designed to document (with words and images) and preserve ancient places and indigenous ways of life that, with the passage of time, might otherwise be lost forever…it is global visual artifact gathering. The Birth of Coffee, birthofcoffee.com is a project of The Image Expedition. For more information visit the websites above or call 512.585.0011.

About S&D Coffee, Inc.

S&D Coffee, Inc. is headquartered in Concord, NC and has been privately held since its founding in 1927. Since then, S&D has become one of the top foodservice roasters in the United States, the leading provider of foodservice iced tea and the first American coffee roaster to be ISO 9001: 2008 compliant.

About Discovery Place

One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that engage people in the active exploration of science and nature. The Museum brings relevant, contemporary science to life through groundbreaking exhibitions, interactive educational programming and hands-on activities. Nearly a half-million people from all over the United States engage with Discovery Place and its IMAX Dome Theatre each year.

Discovery Place is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum’s parking deck – the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex – at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place call (704) 372-6261 or visit discoveryplace.org or connect with Discovery Place on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Discovery Place Inc. owns and operates Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum and Discovery Place KIDS and is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.

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