Joe Wesley

Posted: August 5, 2010 by Todd in Humor
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The Grace Youth Group recently opened a Fair Trade Coffee Store called “Joe Wesley’s.”  Here is the true story behind the name:

You are no doubt familiar with John Wesley, who is credited with starting the Methodist movement.  And you’re probably familiar with John’s brother Charles as well, who is famous for his many contributions to Christian hymnody.  John was the 15th  out of 19 children and Charles was the 18th  out of 19 children born to Samuel and Susana Wesley.  You may not be familiar with the youngest Wesley brother, Joe Wesley.  Joe Wesley is often known as the “forgotten Wesley” because his family and surrounding English culture were incredulous that Joe refused to drink hot tea.  Joe Wesley called hot tea, “warm water wasted” and many felt his attitude was disrespectful to English traditions.  Despite his contrarian views about hot tea, his family connections enabled Joe to become ordained in the Church of England.  But like his brother John, he felt compelled to go into the “New World” and spread God’s word.  Like his brothers John and Charles, Joe went on a mission to a far-away land.  In 1739, Joe Wesley managed to convince the captain of a shipping vessel bound for South America to let him have free passage in exchange for performing religious services for the ship’s crew. Joe Wesley originally landed in Brazil, but traveled around preaching to the natives and eventually set up a mission in present day Columbia.  During his travels throughout South America, Joe Wesley witnessed the plight of the small coffee farmer and the rise of plantation farms who took advantage of these small farmers.  Joe had long since fallen in love with coffee and further angered friends and family back in England when he wrote things like, “this hot black coffee is in every way superior to the brownish juice my countrymen drink.  Coffee is flavored by God Almighty, while tea is flavored with roots, twigs, and leaves.”  Joe dedicated the rest of his life to serving the spiritual and economic needs of the coffee farmers and worked out a trading system with foreign traders through the connections he made riding to South American on the shipping vessel.  This new trading system gave each of the farmers a fair wage for their coffee. Since this time, Joe Wesley’s love of coffee has been etched in history.  When coffee began coming into Europe in earnest during the mid 18th  century, those who had previously mocked Joe for his dislike of hot tea, started to come around as coffee became wildly popular throughout Europe, even surpassing the popularity of hot tea in England.  Many, in fact, started calling coffee, Joe, in honor of Joe Wesley and over the past few centuries the name has stuck.  People throughout the English speaking world ask their baristas for a “cup of Joe.”  While many enjoy the hot, steamy goodness of coffee everyday, few realize Joe Wesley’s contribution to coffee and the coffee trade.  His method of securing a fair price for the farmer’s coffee beans continues to this day under the banner of “fair trade coffee.”  You probably didn’t learn about this in confirmation, but now you know the truth!  And now it is time to sit back and enjoy a cup of Joe.


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