Notes from the Garden: Coffee & Connection

October Plant of the Month: Coffea arabica

doTERRA Essential Oil of the Month: Douglas Fir

On the global level of plant consumption and connection, coffee is an international mogul. It’s one of the top ten most traded commodities in the world, and it serves to connect. There are estimates of 125 million people employed by the coffee industry, either in growing, roasting, exporting, or retail. Chances are, the labor of many different hands, from many different lands, have gone into the next cup of coffee you enjoy.

We drink 2.6 billion cups of coffee worldwide every day. The rise of coffeehouse culture has put one on nearly every corner in major American metropolises and beyond, bringing in folks from the community not only to enjoy a hot cup of coffee made their way, but also to socialize, connect, and exchange information. It seems the coffee bean is bringing us all together.

The coffee bean is actually the seed of the coffee plant. It has sweet-smelling flowers and grows in a tropical weather band around the equator, called the “bean belt,” that spans 70 countries! The seed is found in the fruit, or red “coffee cherry.” When it’s picked, and before they’re roasted, the seeds are green and have a vegetable taste. After the cherries are harvested, the seeds are extracted through a pulping and fermentation process, then dried in the sun. This prepares them for roasting, a complex, alchemical drying process where the nuances of each coffee’s flavor profile are coaxed out at temps of 400 degrees.

Here, the seed is transformed into the bean we know and love. You don’t want just anyone roasting your coffee. This process is so crucial that seconds can make the difference between a perfectly roasted batch of coffee and one that’s considered ruined. Flavor palates like fruity, floral, robust, or chocolaty are all enhanced by roasting. You know that transporting scent of freshly ground coffee? Thank the roaster.

Coffee builds community, one cup at a time. You can always find it at Hope Grows, for every meeting, gathering, and support group. As humans, we are hardwired to connect, both with each other and the natural world. This is something never to be taken for granted, especially in any healing process.

One of the greatest lessons that Hope Grows has taught me is the value of human connection, and to never underestimate its power. In fact, one of Hope Grows’ signature essential oils is called “Abundantly Connected,” and for good reason. Connection moves people, while working to support and unify one another. So many connections run deeper than we can imagine, as there is so much the eye can’t see.

As you enjoy your next cup of coffee, ponder this: data scientist Riccardo Sabatini printed out the entire human genome and wheeled it onstage for his 2016 TED talk. All told, it takes up 262,000 densely printed pages. Of those 262,000 pages, only 500 of them, a mere .19%, comprise the number of pages of genetic code that contains what makes us different from one another. The other 261,500 pages, or 99.81%, of our genetic code is shared by all humans on the planet. Sometimes, connecting over a good cup of coffee may just help us find what’s been there all along.

Gives new meaning to the question: wanna get a cup of coffee?

Written by Jessica Giannotta, Hope Grows Horticulturist


As Autumn Equinox marked the change of seasons in September, celebrating others through the harvest, pumpkins, and change of leaves creates connection, which is our focus for the month of October.

Understanding the importance of social interaction and in-person connections are fundamental aspects of human life. Connecting with others plays a vital role in our overall well-being, mental health, and societal development. While technology and virtual interactions have their merits and can facilitate communication, there are unique benefits to face-to-face interactions without the mediation of technology.

One of my favorite autumn memories of connecting with others is Halloween. It allowed for in-person interactions, which turned into fun and laughter. What I didn’t know as a child: connecting with others during this time helped with social and emotional development, along with thinking and imaginative skill-building.

There are other benefits to connecting with others in-person. It allows for the exchange of non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, body language, gestures, and tone of voice. These non-verbal cues convey emotions, attitudes, and meanings that are often difficult to interpret in virtual communication. The more our young continue to use technology to communicate with others, the more they will struggle in these important developmental milestones.

Being with people in person builds trust and rapport. It also enhances an understanding of other’s perspectives, emotions, and intentions. When this occurs, misunderstandings are reduced and clear communication becomes the outcome. Striking a balance between virtual and face-to-face interactions is key to leading a fulfilling and connected life (albeit difficult with so many ways to connect virtually). I was shocked the other day at how many ways someone can reach out to me virtually – 15 to be exact! I asked myself how I let that happen…

Connecting through nature is another one of my favorite ways to engage. As a child, I remember being outside, turning over stones and looking for bugs, trying to find salamanders in the backyard creek, climbing the apple tree, and digging in the dirt. Most of my free time was spent outside and I developed a sense of belonging in my community by establishing a healthy connection with nature. I hardly ever see children outside playing freely. There is a wonderful book, “The Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv. A quick synopsis: the more time children spend in front of technology, the more they lose the connection to nature and become at risk of unhealthy physical and emotional development. The book is a great read, with a good bit of research, but the main point is to get outside and connect to nature.

One of things we can do is to help nature right now is to become a detective. We are at risk of a larger spotted lantern fly infestation next spring due to the eggs that are being laid on the bark of the trees. Inspect the picture to the right and if you spot the same formations on any trees you come across, make sure you kill the eggs before next spring by scraping them. More information on how to do this can be found by here.

However you choose to connect this month, keep this in mind: while technology offers incredible advancements and convenience in communication, recognizing and appreciating the value of in-person interactions without technology is essential for maintaining meaningful relationships, emotional well-being, and a sense of belonging in our communities.