Why We're Called Thorn & Thistle.
Words : Ben Hepworth
A number of years ago whilst watching The Book of Eli, a movie starring Denzel Washington as Eli, I was fascinated by the delivery of a powerful line spoken by him who, prior to quickly dispatching a number of assailants, casually places down his personal belongings, rolls up his sleeves and begins slowly recounting scripture, “Cursed be the ground for our sake. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for us. For out of the ground we were taken, for the dust we are, and to the dust we shall return.”
The words, the delivery, the aura he presented were captivating, I was so overwhelmed by this passage, I felt compelled to study its origins, meaning and upon doing so, soon came to establish my own interpretation which may come as little surprise to learn is coffee related.
Although the film used an element of artistic licence to better suit the scene, I found Its origins were inspired by Genesis 3:17-18, a passage whereby Adam had just been condemned for eating fruit from the tree after being told to do so by Eve. The original passage reads.
“cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life, both thorns and thistles it will yield for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your bread, until you return to the ground, because out of it were you taken for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
The farmers who grow our coffee work in some of the world’s most challenging environments, amongst awkward terrain which sits thousands of meters above sea level in what is known as the coffee bean belt. Its sits within the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator. These regions have tropical climates which help provide ideal environments for coffee to grow. Having said that, farmers face an arduous task of taking care of their crops and more so when it comes time to picking. This process has to be done by hand, not just because it would be impossible to get machinery into the places where coffee needs to grow, but because a machine can’t differentiate between a ripe and unripe cherry and so a painstaking process of picking these cherries by hand takes place. It can take up to seven passes of the farm to harvest all the cherries as different parts of the tree ripen at different times.
This process more than anything sums up perfectly what is meant, to me personally, the words in Genesis. These farmers work exceptionally hard to produce some of the finest coffee in the world, toiling hard daily, all year round to provide for their families for generations to come.
The name Thorn & Thistle therefor stands to honour these hardworking, passionate producers, and I’m inspired to work with them, being able to showcase their hard work is a real honour and one I do with the same dedication, passion and commitment.
In a deeper sense, my philosophical mind wondered how the curse on mankind still remains relevant in this day and age when we seem to live amongst such abundance. Although there is no toil in the physical sense in order to reap our food from the fields, I do however believe we still toil and struggle in our daily lives, despite many advances in technology to help us and connect us more than at any point in human history, I can’t help but feel we are perhaps still like Adam & Eve, that we still aren’t satisfied with what we have. In our over commercialised, stimulated world, we strive for more, more things, more money, more hours in the day as it’s what we're told will make us happy and fulfilled.
So, although our daily toil isn’t against actual thorns and thistles, our pursuit of our own forbidden fruit, whatever that maybe, only leaves us perpetually pursuing, leaving us weary and exhausted. I’ve never heard anyone chasing happiness yet say they have caught it and that’s because happiness isn’t an end point, it’s a transient moment on a journey, so simply enjoy the ride.