Did you hear the one about the Christian going into the coffee shop?

Of course you didn’t. Because Christians go into coffee shops a lot. So does everyone else. In fact, so many of us go into so many coffee shops so often that we probably don’t even think about it too much.

We enter, get in line, order our triple-shot-no-whip-soy-latte, pay, and carry on, never even considering the myriad opportunities that are available to us to live out our beliefs or make the world a better place.

In this excerpt from my new book, New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours, I offer some practical suggestions on ways Christians–and everyone else–can make a difference with our coffee-related behavior.

For the Christian, the parallel is obvious–we are called to live our lives for the benefit of our neighbors, whether that neighbor is down the street, halfway around the world, or the world itself. By using these easy ideas, we can do just that–all from the line at Starbucks.

You can blame (or thank) companies like Starbucks for helping the coffee shop become the proverbial “third place.” In today’s world, we spend most of our time at home, work and now, the coffee shop. It’s replaced our churches, our ball fields, our rotary clubs, our front porches and our public squares as a viable meeting place, after-dinner stop, concert venue and discussion forum. And with more than 25,000 coffeehouses in the U.S., these places will become more and more important.

So too is the need for us to think carefully when we enter one. If you’re the average person (who just so happens to want to save the world), small changes in how you use and enjoy this time will add up to make big differences. Whether you frequent a local establishment for their blend of beans, pop in to the national chain only occasionally, need a tall mocha to keep you going in the middle of the day or religiously sip a cup at home every morning at 6 a.m., you can employ the following ideas each time you drink this “black gold.”

Make a friend:

If you always visit the same coffee shop, take a minute to learn the name of the person pouring that delicious cup of joe. By learning his or her name, you’ll become a friendly face in their daily routine of serving up hot cups of caffeine. Learning people’s names is something a lot of us overlook on a daily basis, but taking a moment to remember that there is a story behind each apron increases the notion of community. Just please don’t use your newfound knowledge to shout across the coffeehouse that you need a refill.

What is fair trade coffee?

The term “fair trade” has become a sexy buzzword of late. Companies label their foodstuffs as fair trade (after a strict audit process) to ensure that consumers feel better about what they’re buying. And they should–fair trade products mean that you’ve paid a fair price for that coffee, chocolate or tea you’re enjoying.

Because many impoverished countries rely on commodities like coffee for their chief export, there can be an abundance of beans. Due to supply and demand, this can drive down the value of coffee beans so that farmers are being paid pennies on the pound for their beans.

In contrast, fair-trade groups organize and set a floor price for their coffee. For example, a fair-trade farming group in Ethiopia may determine that their beans can be bought for no less than a dollar a pound. Such a premium price allows these farmers to better sustain their families and communities.

However, it doesn’t end with price. Fair trade also ensures that democratic pricing processes are established and that purchasers invest in the local communities from which they’re buying coffee. The entire process is designed to help local farmers sustain their livelihoods while providing us with delicious cups of coffee. So, in the end, the extra dollar or two you pay per pound is more than worth it as it returns an investment that can’t be measured strictly in numbers.

Personalize the Mug.

More than 44 billion paper cups are used each year for hot drinks. When you do the math of how many of those might be yours, your imperative to offset a few of those with a reusable mug becomes pretty clear.

Whether you’re stopping in as part of your daily routine or making a random pit stop on your way to somewhere else, bring your own mug to fill with coffee or tea. Most places are happy to top off your travel mug, and many offer a small discount because they’re saving money on some of their costs.

New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours is co-authored by Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley, founders of CoolPeopleCare. The book has over 100 practical ideas on ways you can make a difference as part of your daily routine, and also comes with a beginner’s glossary for those new to the world of social change.

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