TURIN, Italy – Seventeen months, just under a year and a half, have passed since April 22, 2021, the day the Slow Food Coffee Coalition (SFCC) was officially launched. A good moment, then, to take stock, looking back at what has been achieved, looking forward at what will happen in the near future and setting new and ambitious objectives.
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2022, which will run until September 26 in Turin, offers the ideal venue for this. At 3pm, the Berta Cáceres Arena, set up in the Parco Dora, hosted a conference entitled “Slow Food Coffee Coalition: The Commitment to Good, Clean and Fair and the Example of Cuba,” with the participation of Slow Food president Edward Mukiibi and the vice-president of Lavazza, Giuseppe Lavazza.
What has been achieved in the first year and a half of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition?
When the SFCC was officially launched, the first objective was to unite the many actors within the coffee chain, from growers to consumers via roasters and distributors. The numbers for these first 17 months of activity speak for themselves: 29 new Slow Food Communities linked to coffee production in nine countries around the world:Cuba, The Philippines, Honduras, India, Malawi, Mexico, Peru, East Timor and Uganda.
In eight of these new Slow Food Communities, a process for certifying that the coffee is good, clean and fair has been introduced. These Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are mechanisms that allow community members to evaluate their products themselves. But rather than a simple self-certification, this is a shared process of assessment, which unites producers and other stakeholders and is based on trust and rules, standards and procedures previously established together.
This type of certification, unlike many others, has no extra costs for the producers, as it is the result of an internal process and does not involve evaluation by a third-party organization.
These are the eight Slow Food Communities which have already implemented a PGS: the Slow Food Bio Cuba Café Frente Oriental Community in Cuba, the Slow Food Minoyan Murcia Coffee Network Community in the Philippines, the Slow Food Café Resiliente El Paraíso e Las Capucas Sustainable Coffee Village Community in Honduras, the Slow Food Nilgirs Coffee Coalition in India, the Slow Food Bosque, Niebla y Café Xalapa Community in Mexico, the Slow Food Café Sustentable Villa Rica Community in Peru and the Slow Food Mt. Elgon Nyasaland Coffee Community in Uganda.
What exactly is a PGS?
A Participatory Guarantee System is a tool, which in the case of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition works like this: Slow Food trains the local communities, either in person or remotely, following the principles developed over the association’s 30-year history. Together with the communities and based on each one’s individual characteristics, the criteria to be respected are established.
They are always based on a production process that results in a sensorily enjoyable product, respects the environment, follows agroecology principles and values the dignity of workers. The communities adopting the PGS then make the conscious choice to be responsible for respecting these rules.
It is the community itself that guarantees the trustworthiness of the system, a collective group of people who in various roles are all part of the same production chain and are all working to obtain the best possible product.
This means the certification does not come from the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, but from the community itself, whose very existence is rooted in shared values and principles.
Coffee is traceable via blockchain and ready to sample at Terra Madre
The results of the last year and a half of work are being showcased at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, where the SFCC’s first six pilot coffees are available for tasting. They come from five of the Slow Food Communities who have chosen to introduce a PGS (in Cuba, Honduras, India, Mexico and Peru) and they have been processed by 11 different roasters (ten in Italy and one in Denmark).
The names of the six coffees? Reserva de Tierra Cuba, Rio Colorado, Dona Elda, La Chacra d’Dago Armonia, Wild Robusta and Café Cooperativo Familia Oltehua Vásquez. The roasters, also SFCC members, will be offering them to the public, having taken a chance on coffees whose meaning goes well beyond a mere caffeine-delivery system but are instead rich in significance and values.
During the days of Terra Madre, held in Turin’s Parco Dora from today until September 26, these six coffees, bearing the logo of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, can be tasted for €1.50 each at the SFCC café, set up next to the Terra Madre Kitchen in the heart of the event. While only six are available for now, the Slow Food Coffee Coalition is hard at work to increase that number.
Another significant innovation has also been introduced by the SFCC: blockchain, a traceability system that makes it possible to securely record every step along the production process.
The blockchain coffees make it possible to verify the information provided about the raw materials and their processing during every phase of the production process, from cultivation to the consumer’s cup. This useful tool is available to anyone who wants to learn more and make conscious consumption choices.
The Slow Food Coffee Coalition, founded by Slow Food and the Lavazza Group, is also supported by its main partner DeLonghi and donations from BWT and Accademia del Caffè Espresso La Marzocco, which is also the technical partner for the Slow Food Coffee Coalition at Terra Madre.
In order to read the Manifesto click here.
Coffee at Terra Madre: the events
3.30pm on Friday September 23: Coffee as a Facilitator of Peace and Prosperity in Yemen. This forum will be a chance to present the results of the 2020-2021 two-year project, “Prosperity through coffee for small farmers in Yemen,” a collaboration between the Lavazza and Qima foundations.
6.30pm on Friday September 23: Slow Food Coffee Coalition, a New Participatory Model. A chance to talk about the pilot coffees presented at Terra Madre, hearing from the producers, the roasters, the experts and the main partners, including Lavazza, DeLonghi and Accademia del Caffè Espresso La Marzocco.
11.30am on Saturday September 24: Participatory Guarantee Systems: An Alternative Model for Community Certification. The PGS is a model for guaranteeing quality which involves local communities and producers working together closely to collectively to ensure respect for shared production standards. Slow Food has been promoting this model, which underpins the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, since 2018.
4.30pm on Saturday September 24: Coffee Farmers and Youth Activists United for Agroforestry. A dialogue between coffee growers from around the world and members of the Slow Food Youth Network to discuss the benefits of agroforestry coffee production and present good practices and concrete experiences that can be replicated. The event has been organized thanks to the support of the FAO Mountain Partnerships and the project “Addressing market constraints and capacity building towards sustainable and profitable coffee agroforestry value-chains.”
4pm on Sunday September 25: Know Your Coffee. Want to learn more about coffee? How about an online course developed by the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Behind your Daily Cup: Understanding the Coffee Value Chain? And b.farm has developed the Aromateller qualification for anyone who wants to become an ambassador for a new era of coffee, defined by quality.
This being a Slow Food event, there are of course also Taste Workshops dedicated to coffee, organized by Lavazza and hosted inside their Factory 1895 roastery in Settimo Torinese. Three workshops each on Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25 at 11am, 2pm and 4pm mean it’s always time for a cup of coffee, especially a good one! A “coffelier” will guide participants to discover the world of specialty coffee, giving them the tools to understand exactly what makes a coffee a specialty, from its cultivation in its country of origin to its taste in the cup.
To learn more click here.