Who is the laughing man? Well, the truth is, you are. Because the spirit of laughing man lives wherever people come together in friendship, commonality and, most importantly, joy.
And the story of Laughing Man begins in one such place: A small farm in a tiny village called Kochere, amidst the lush greenery of Ethiopia's Yirgacheffe region–the birthplace of the famous Arabica coffee bean.
It was 2009 when our founder, Hugh (Jackman–actor and coffee lover, but, until then, not much of a farmer) and his wife, Deb, traveled to the region to see just what it takes to grow the beans that the world takes for granted, every single day.
At the end of a long and bruising seven-hour drive across the rugged landscape, they arrived to a warm welcome from a farmer named Dukale and his wife, Agnesh. With open arms, home-cooked food and–of course–coffee, the hosts took the visitors into their family and their community. In Hugh's own words, this meeting “changed the way I saw the world completely”.
As Hugh went to work digging, planting and irrigating alongside Dukale, he saw the daily hardships the farmers faced. However, he also felt the warmth, generosity, and infectious positivity that flowed through their community.
After planting two trees together–which Dukale named for Hugh's children–the pair laughed and sipped traditionally brewed coffee in Dukale's home (in Ethiopia, coffee is never drunk alone). Here, Hugh was struck by something more than the sweet smell of cardamom wafting through the air: It was a sudden awareness of the bond he and Dukale had built, despite the immense differences in their lives. Somehow–through laughter, joy, and common endeavor–they had melted away barriers, crossed borders, transcended economics and arrived at a place of pure, shared humanity.
It was Hugh's original All Be Happy moment–all made possible by the wondrous product of their labour he drank from the small, handless cup he held in front of him.
And in that moment, this new perspective on humanity, community and coffee allowed Hugh the glimmer of an idea. By using the unifying pleasure of coffee to share a little of this experience, he reasoned, a company and its customers could change life for Dukale and many, many farmers like him.
On his return to New York, Hugh looked to his own community to nurture this seedling thought. His friends, Barry and David Steingard, had grown up in the business and seen bonds formed over the joy of coffee day after day. But in Hugh's idea, they could see how those small moments could add up to something bigger: Local coffee communities supporting the global coffee family, united by their shared passion and for the benefit of all. And so the Laughing Man Coffee Company took root.
Today, we're still making good on Hugh's original dream. Through fair trade and the Laughing Man Foundation, we're continuing to support farmers around the world. And, by bringing the All Be Happy ethos to everything we do, we're always creating the shared moments of joy that build stronger bonds between us all.
And yes, we're still getting beans from the trees Hugh and Dukale planted. So there's always a little of that original All Be Happy moment somewhere in the coffee we serve.
From coffee. For community. For joy. For all.