Every day, more than 2.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide. Coffee lovers might partake in the simple daily ritual as soon as they wake up and then sip two, maybe even three, throughout the day. Coffee is an integral part of our day–it gives us energy or offers us a reprieve. For many of us, the coffee ritual is practically automatic; we don’t give a second thought as to how the cup contains the fruit of the hard work of countless men and women. An entire supply chain has grown, harvested, dried, selected, toasted, ground, and packaged the product before reaching us. At the end of this long journey, those exquisite beans arrive in our homes, thousands of kilometers away from their point of origin. The pleasure from a cup of coffee is the result of a long story–a long chain in which we participate every time we switch on a coffee machine. And a chain we must know better.
The Coffee Value Chain series takes you on a journey that explores everything that happens before that simple ritual, aiming to spotlight those who add value to the coffee we drink daily–that which, whether at home or in the office, we prepare precisely bean-to-cup coffee machines like those designed and manufactured by De’Longhi. We’re all part of the process. With The Coffee Value Chain, De’Longhi aims to go beyond its commitment to researching and developing increasingly more sophisticated systems that transform high-quality coffee beans into a great cup. Instead, it strives to inform and disseminate, to stimulate change and new awareness; pressing a button is not a mechanical, robotic gesture but a precise action that activates a virtuous circle. Bringing consumers closer to their coffee and getting to know the process is key to making informed decisions.
Delicious, superior-quality coffee arrives from a chain that starts on the farms and intertwines with the lives of many, so we visited these individuals in person. We traveled as far as Colombia to discover how they grow the best coffee. We watched the farmers work fairly, respecting the environment and workers with their non-intensive, pesticide-free, responsible practices. Thanks to the deft manual work of farmers like Laura, the coffee is collected, processed, and dried naturally. It’s then selected by passionate, competent roasters like Alexis, who choose the proper roasting to enhance the raw material’s aromas and flavors, transforming it with integrity.
As consumers, relying on a trusted roaster and implementing the best possible method to extract the fruit is how we’re part of a virtuous chain–a chain for which the decision to start with quality raw beans empowers responsible coffee consumption and leads to delicious, qualitatively superior products.
Information and education become essential to the supply chain to recognize and appreciate the said level of quality. Dan, barista and trainer for the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), helps us understand this. Every day he shares a new coffee culture that enhances the beans’ quality and differences; cup after cup on the counter provides access to a new world. Knowing, understanding, and appreciating a good cup of coffee is the first step that we, the final customers, take to close this virtuous circle. In doing so, we create a market that rewards sustainability and quality.
“Culture is everything,” says Svenja, a teacher and coffee enthusiast. She has learned in turn and now explains to her students that it’s both meaningful and satisfying to invest in the right products and make ethical choices daily. Even as early as when we wake up.
A cup of coffee contains an entire universe, not just a little caffeine. It’s filled with commitment, vision, passion, and gestures made with love and integrity, and it’s up to us to press the right button and choose to drink a quality coffee, giving it the value it deserves.