7. Partners: Elegant Harmonies

Coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico darkly joke that that theirs is the business of the future—because it will always be better next year. Erwin Pohlenz toiled, worried, and sweated for years before that next year came. In 1998, his 1,250-acre coffee plantation Santa Teresa lost an entire mountainside of plants in torrential rains. The same year, bandits broke into his home and tried to extort $100,000. Pohlenz found himself in the role of a modern day Job. Scorching heat in successive years wreaked havoc on his plantings. A borer worm infestation swept over the plantation. Santa Teresa’s production plummeted. Then, prices plunged worldwide. What else could go wrong? That was the question Pohlenz awoke to every day. ...

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