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Press Release

Detailed information on the exhibits, research projects, and programs tailored for journalists. For more information or questions please contact Burke Museum Public Relations.

January 01, 2009

A New Look at Coffee: From Farm to Cup

Landmark Exhibit Premieres in Seattle

Coffee: The World in Your Cup
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Jan. 24 - June 7, 2009

Seattle –Pacific Northwesteners have a reputation for voracious coffee consumption. But every cup of coffee we buy and drink connects us with a web of hidden stories around the world. In this global age, a new exhibit at Seattle's Burke Museum explores the important question: What is the true story behind one of the world's most widely traded commodities?

Coffee: The World in Your Cup is a new touring exhibit, organized by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and premiering there on January 24, 2009. The exhibit provides a broad overview of the powerful influence of coffee on environments, human cultures, and economies worldwide.

"Coffee connects us all," says Burke exhibit coordinator Ruth Pelz. "Most consumers don't think about the people and places that bring coffee from the field to the roast to the cup, but this exhibit offers visitors a chance to be more socially and environmentally aware of what they drink. Coffee really has the power to remind us of our place in the world."

 Highlights of Coffee: The World in Your Cup include:

  • Color photographs of farms from South America to Africa to the Pacific Islands that tell the global story of coffee cultivation and trade
  • Live coffee plants
  • In-gallery "Café" setting for weekend coffee tastings and demonstrations
  • Four short videos featuring different aspects of the coffee industry, including the local coffee scene
  • Wall-to-wall display of coffee bags from dozens of Northwest coffee roasters

Looking to become a responsible sipper? Coffee explores the environmental and social impacts of the coffee industry and recommends ways for consumers to make socially and environmentally responsible coffee purchases at the grocery store or in a coffee shop. Concerned about how coffee affects human health? Learn about the impacts of caffeine, the world's most commonly-used drug, on your body. Curious about how coffee became so popular? Discover its early controversial reputation as a "revolutionary drink," and consider the culture that surrounds coffee in the twenty-first century.


Coffee: The World in Your Cup was organized by the Burke Museum in collaboration with a panel of advisors from the University of Washington, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Seattle University, Seattle Audubon, and the Specialty Coffee Industry. Major support for the exhibition has been provided by The Boeing Company, Microsoft Corporation, Starbucks Coffee Company, and the University of Washington, with additional support from the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Related Events:

Opening Weekend: Coffee: The World in Your Cup

Sat. and Sun., January 24 and 25, 2009, 10 am – 4 pm

Celebrate the opening of Coffee and learn about all the people, plants, and processes that collaborate to make that perfect cup! On Saturday, enjoy guided gallery tours, coffee tastings, and talks by coffee experts. On Sunday, sign up for a special cupping demonstration, and attend coffee tastings throughout the day. For details, see www.burkemuseum.org.

Coffee Tastings and In-Gallery Demonstrations

Weekends, January 31 – March 29, 2009

Join the Burke Museum for specialty coffee tastings with coffee makers from around the Puget Sound. Tastings will occur in "World in Your Cup Café." For a complete schedule, see http://www.burkemuseum.org


Coffee: From the Grounds Up Lecture Series

April – May 2009

The University of Washington presents an eight-week public-event seminar series focusing on topics ranging from the history of coffee and human communities, to the ecology and environmental impacts of coffee, to the use of coffee as an agent of social change. For more information, please contact Terry Rustan, Program on the Environment at 206-221-4895 or trustan@u.washington.edu.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274

Handful of coffee cherries (Herbazu, Costa Rica)
Handful of coffee cherries (Herbazu, Costa Rica)
Photo by D. Major Cohen