It was one of the protagonists of the last “Terra Madre” fair in Turin at the end of September: a “good, clean and fair” coffee. The product comes from a new sector born thanks to the association between the gastronomes of the “Slow food” movement and a giant named Lavazza.
We will still have to wait until the beginning of next year to taste it on the “zincs” of bistros and cafés in France. But visitors to the latest “Terra Madre” taste fair have already had the privilege of tasting it. A coffee of only five countries: Cuba, Honduras, India, Mexico and Peru. The countries of origin of what “Slow Food”, the international movement for eco-food and alternative consumption, calls its Slow Food Coffee Coalition (SFCC).
“Our idea was born in the middle of the Covid pandemic”explains Emanuele Dughera, the coffee specialist at the world headquarters of the “Slow Food” movement, in Bra, Piedmont. “Until then we had already experimented with the same type of supply chain on other food products, such as Italian red flageolet or Tanganyika red goat cheese… But the world of coffee is so complex that we never dared to ‘attract’ it.’
In fact, it is very difficult to unite the many players in the coffee sector: from farmers to consumers, via roasters and distributors. However, already 20 months after the launch of the project 29 new “Slow Food Communities” related to coffee production nine countries of the world, emerged: Cuba, Philippines, Honduras, India, Malawi, Mexico, Peru, East Timor and Uganda.
But for now, in the quest for a more equitable coffee world, there are only eight communities taking a “good, clean and fair” coffee certification course.
It is a participatory certification system, PGS (Participatory Guarantee System). The mechanism allows the various members of a community to value the fruit of their work. This is not a self-certification, but a shared evaluation process. It is based on trust, rules, standards and procedures established upstream.
“Until then we have always tended to consider the coffee grower as a simple contractor. It is about time he was seen as a central player in the sector”Emmanuel explains.
This type of certification does not represent a high cost for the small operators with whom Slow Food has decided to work: it is the result of an internal control and not of an evaluation by a third party. In this it differs from the usual fair trade labels, such as Max Havelaar or FairTrade, for example.
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A new coffee industry was born in Turin from the collaboration between the foodie movement Slow Food and the giant Italian distributor of espresso coffee: Lavazza
©France 3 Alps
Another interest for these small producers: Slow Food is responsible for the training (remote and face-to-face) of local communities wherever they are in the world.
The movement establishes with them a sort of specification of criteria to be respected. They are linked to food productions that are good from an organoleptic point of view, deriving from agroecology and which enhance the dignity of workers. Because it is the communities that adopt the PGS that choose to be responsible for compliance with the standards and guarantee the reliability of the system.
In the end, the PGS certification is not issued by the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, but by the community itself, which places its raison d’être in sharing values and principles.
Another innovation brought by the new sector: the blockchain. A traceability system to reliably record each production step. Hence the possibility for the consumer to verify the information on the raw materials and on the transformations undergone by the product in each phase of its processing.
Thanks to the QR Code present on each pack of the SFCC sector, the coffee drinker can have all the information he is looking for on the “black gold” he has in his cup: one of the most consumed biodiversity products in the world.