In the PopAnth blog site, I read an article titled “Turning Coffee into Charity” by Samuel Victor. This article connects to cultural anthropology through the relationship between religion and cultural perceptions of consumerism. Victor’s article discusses the way a minister uses his religious beliefs to encourage people to adopt a conscious act of generosity through consumer practices.
Within the consumer world, corporations encourage consumers to embrace a materialistic lifestyle through their advertisements. Additionally, promoting materialism causes consumers to depend on the consumption of material items. Ultimately, consumerism evolves around selfish practices because business owners sell products for financial gain and consumers buy products for their own benefit.
Caption: a cup of coffee at The Well Coffeehouse.
Rob Touchstone, a practicing minister and the founder of The Well Coffeehouse, designed the company to provide impoverished communities around the world with financial subsistence. His idea of consumerism differs from the cultural perceptions of Western society. Instead of mimicking the selfish attitudes of multi-million dollar corporations, Touchstone “strives to infuse purpose and meaning into the consumption of his coffee” (Victor) by encouraging consumers to support “oppressed, underprivileged, and impoverished children, women and men” (Victor). A non-profit organization, Touchstone donates the profits made by the company to “religiously affiliated development projects with clean water projects around the world” (Victor) instead of using the profits for his own benefit.
Touchstone’s purpose is to encourage customers to foster generosity through the love of God by showing consumers the “important Biblical teachings about the relationship between people and material goods” (Victor). Ultimately, Touchstone believes that using God’s love will direct consumerism towards generosity rather than selfishness.