Coffee & Migration:
Human and Avian
James Hayes-Bohanan , Ph.D.
Coffee Maven and Geographer
Bridgewater State University
UPDATED July 2, 2012

A geograher and
                his cafezinho
I have expanded this site's information about coffee shops, coffee roasters, coffee tours, health effects,
and coffee preparation, and have moved that information to other pages. Please explore!

This modest page provides links to some of the resources that I used in preparation for my September 11, 2010 talk of the same title, which I presented at the Bridgewater Public Library as part of the celebration of the return of Saturday hours to the library. I always "thank the farmers." In this case, I also "thank the librarians," as well as the dedicated volunteers of the Library Trustees and the Friends of the Library. Readers interested in a coffee presentation or event for their own library, school, club, or religious organization are invited to visit my Coffee Outreach page.

More recently, I included this topic in a discussion at my church entitled Migration and Faith.

We are a country that buys commodity coffee while building walls to keep out undocumented migrants. This presentation explains why this is a deeply problematic contradiction. Some of the sources used in the presentation are provided below.

Mahler, Sarah J. and Dusan Gurina (Florida International University). 2006. Central America: Crossroads of the Americas. Migration Immigration Source. This article is a well-written and comprehensive discussion of the relationships among war, poverty, environmental degradation, and politics in the internal and external migration patterns of Central America.

Lundquist, Jennifer H. and Douglas S. Massey. 2005. Politics or Economics? International Migration during the Nicaraguan Contra War. Journal of Latin American Studies  37, 29–53.

Rural Migration News. 2002. Global Communities: Bananas, Coffee. This UC-Davis study describes migration related to market changes in several food products. It cites the 540,000 jobs lost in Central American coffee as a driver of migration. Global: NAFTA, Chile, Dole is a 2008 report from the same group that explains why declining prices for commodity corn are creating greater pressure to produce coffee. This is deeply problematic, since coffee over-production is already a fundamental problem for farmers.

In his 2004 article To Die a Little: Migration and Coffee in Mexico and Central America, Luis Hernández Navarro makes the direct connection between the coffee crisis and the migration of hundreds of thousands of people from parts of Mexico and Central America from which migration had previously been almost unheard-of. Navarro tells the story of 14 migrants who died in the Arizona desert, part of an ongoing tragedy in my former home state that I discuss more generally in Just Like Arlo.

In Fight Poverty: Quit Drinking Corporate Coffee, Julie Craves writes "low bean prices fueling corporate profits [causing] entire rural communities to disappear...forcing desperate peasants into everything from crime and illicit crops to illegal migration." Her source for that quote is Peter Fritsch's 2002 Wall Street Journal article on the oversupply of coffee, in which he describes the various ways in which the United States has seen the value of protecting the livelihoods of coffee farmers.

For information on the intra-regional migration related to coffee, see Hidden Hands in Fair Trade: Nicaraguan migrants and the labour process in the Costa Rican coffee harvest

In the presentation I also discussed the relationship between quality coffee and the migration of songbirds. I cited the work of Conservation International on the relationship between tropical biodiversity and coffee. More directly related is the exhaustive and excellent work of Julie Craves on Coffee and Conservation.

Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan
Coffee Maven and Professor
Department of Geography -- Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater, Massachusetts USA / EEUU / EUA
Affiliated Scholar, Institute for Coffee Studies
Vanderbilt University
jhayesboh @