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Kona Earth coffee in Baghdad, Iraq
25 July 2011


When Saddam Hussein was in power he was a very wealthy individual.  Being a typically selfish dictator, he treated himself to many luxuries that weren't available to the average Iraqi citizen.  It makes me wonder, did he ever drink Kona coffee?  If so, where did he get it from?  It's funny to imagine a rogue dictator sitting at his laptop while ordering Kona coffee from some unsuspecting Kona coffee farmer.  I imagine Saddam typing in his address:  "Secret hole, under old carpet, behind farmhouse in Tikrit, Iraq."  He wouldn't be able to use his real name of course otherwise the Kona coffee farmer might try poisoning the coffee or substituting tainted coffee like a Kona blend or something.

Whether or not Saddam Hussein ever enjoyed Kona coffee, I know that the U.S. soldiers currently occupying his headquarters in Baghdad do.  Those soldiers appreciate a good cup of Kona coffee and I have pictures to prove it!

The picture above was taken by Lieutenant Green.  He was my roommate on the USS Nimitz and now he is stationed in Iraq.  He took this picture from "FOB UNION III looking over the IZ".  In other words:  in Baghdad.

shotgun If you're old enough to remember photos of Iraq from Desert Storm and operation Iraqi Freedom, then you may recognize some of the landmarks.  On the left is the parade ground where the Iraqi forces would march past the review stand.  The review stand (the domed area) is where Saddam liked to stand over the crowd and shoot his shotgun in a show of defiance.

Moving across the picture from the left is Al Rasheed Hotel, their Monument to the Unknown Soldier and on the far right, the Victory Arch.  These crossed swords are the entrance to the parade ground.  Hussein had them built in the 1980's as a declaration of victory in the Iran-Iraq war.

The swords' hands are hollow so it's possible to climb into them and take a picture near the base of the sword.  Also, one of the thumbs has an exact copy of Hussein's actual thumb print.  I've never inspected them myself, I'm just repeating what Wikipedia says.  Maybe I should ask one of my coffee drinking fans in Iraq to go investigate.

I am a veteran of Desert Storm so I find it a special treat to ship my coffee to soldiers in Iraq.  Desert Storm was many years ago and I was just a "kid" at the time but I still remember parts of it very clearly.  As far as wars go, it was a relatively clean one, at least for Americans.  Still, it was definitely a war with plenty of hardships such as being far from home and living in rough conditions.  There were other problems too like being shot at and not being able to find a good cup of coffee.


Lt. Green, the one holding the Kona Earth coffee while posing with the Iraqi soldiers, is an officer in the U.S. Navy and currently stationed at the main command post in Iraq.  Being stationed at the command post beats living in a tent in Afghanistan or a humvee driving around the desert but it is still far from luxurious.  The occasional luxury sent from home is always appreciated.  When he started sharing some of his Kona coffee with the other soldiers, it didn't take long before Lt. Green had to order more.

Recently he placed an order for several pounds of coffee but instead of sending it straight to Iraq, he sent it home to his wife California so she could have some good coffee too.  The plan was that she'd keep a couple bags for herself then send the remaining bags on to Iraq along with her next care package.  A couple days later, Lt. Green placed a duplicate order but this time shipped straight to Iraq.  I sent him an email asking if it was a mistake.  No, it wasn't a mistake, he was trying to prevent a mutiny.

Lt. Green knew he was about to run out of Kona coffee but figured he could buy a little time by quietly substituting a Kona blend.  Well, the other soldiers discovered the switch and immediately asked what happened to the "good coffee."  They threatened to move his desk outside if he didn't order more coffee right away.  If you've ever experienced the desert heat of Iraq in August, you'll understand that it was a serious threat.

Once I understood the situation, we got Lt. Green's coffee boxed up and in the mail right away.  Shipping to Iraq takes a little longer than shipping in the U.S. but is still relatively fast, especially considering that it has to travel literally to the other side of the planet.  Hopefully the coffee will get to Iraq soon so Lt. Green won't have to worry about friendly fire.

If you know any deployed military personnel, in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else around the world, I encourage you to send them a gift.  International shipping is normally quite expensive but the U.S. post office will generously ship a large Priority Mail Flat Rate box to any FPO/APO address for only $12.20.  That's even cheaper than domestic shipping.  So you have no excuse, send your favorite soldier a box of goodies today.


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