Sacred Africa

This article on the Ethiopian rock-cut churches in Lalibela ran in Budget Travel. It’s archived below.

November 2007
Sacred Africa
Nearly eight centuries ago, 11 churches were carved into the Ethiopian earth. You don’t have to be a believer to be intrigued by their mystery or awed by their majesty.

By Stephan Faris

The pageant overfills the dusty road. Under the hot African sun, a knot of clergy in maroon, peach, and royal blue robes raises parasols and brass crosses. When the parade pauses, a cleric wipes the foreheads of two high priests, wrapped in velvet and balancing replicas of the tablets of Moses on their heads. A loudspeaker pulses a tenor’s chant, and 20 men form two lines for a swaying dance to the jangle of handheld brass rattles.

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Starbucks vs. Ethiopia

This article on a trademark battle between Starbucks and the government of Ethiopia appeared in Fortune Magazine and is archived below.

February 26, 2007
Starbucks vs. Ethiopia
The country that gave the world the coffee bean and the company that invented the $4 latte are fighting over a trademark, says Fortune’s Stephan Faris.

By Stephan Faris

To produce a pound of organic sun-dried coffee, farmers in the southern Ethiopian village of Fero spread six pounds of ripe, red coffee cherries onto pallets near their fields. They sun the fruit for 15 days, stirring every few minutes to ensure uniform dryness, then shuck the shells.

Last season, that pound of coffee fetched farmers an average price of $1.45. Figuring in the cost of generator fuel, bank interest, labor and transport across Ethiopia’s dusty roads, it netted them less than $1. In the U.S., however, that same pound of coffee commands a much higher price: $26 for a bag of Starbucks’ roasted Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo.

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