Who’s behind your cup of coffee? Traceability means identity

28 Jul 2021

Each cup of coffee is influenced by the identity of the coffee itself. When I started dealing with coffee, in the early nineties, I mainly thought about promoting espresso and cappuccino and to sell coffee for the mocha only as an expression of Italian culture.

At that time I collaborated with a large roasting company based in Milan which supported my project and, as a barista, I created and managed an ante litteram coffee shop with the idea of selling coffee beans, ground fresh on demand, associating it with the sale of organic and local products that I was looking for among the alternative productions to the industrial ones.

Of all the products I knew the stories, often exciting, and producers, with whom I had a direct relationship; they were enthusiastic visionary pioneers in search of an authentic relationship with their land and its flavors, and therefore I had enough information that I could pass on to customers, directing them to a conscious purchase that made them protagonists of their own experience.

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As far as coffee was concerned, my lack of knowledge really stopped at the surface. I had no information to pass on to the customer but above all I did not have the necessary knowledge to select the coffees to offer.

The roasting of which I was a partner was a serious but traditional enterprise, far from understanding the reasons for my requests. The books about coffee stopped at mythology and very rough disclosure.

All this discouraged me. Right in the coffee lacked traceability.The producers were far away and it was impossible to make contact with them.The coffees at my disposal were the result of passages during which the efforts of the producers and the identity of the coffee were lost.

A few years later, Internet  and the spread of digital culture have shortened distances and facilitated contacts.

Thanks to the worldwide interest born around the specialty coffee, I found answers to my questions and above all, I realized that the request for information was a need for many people.

Finally, I started roasting and buying coffees trying to get to the source and above all relying on importers who assured me the traceability, even in the price of green coffee.

Today, traceability establishes the difference between coffees produced with method, with awareness, with attention and coffees destined for a market without identity.

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Traceability is the fundamental key for the growth of the entire coffee production sector because it gives an overview, not segmented, of the entire supply chain and helps to focus on critical issues.

On the one hand, it stimulates the grower to increase his efforts and to plan his production based on the conditions of the soil, the climate, the altitude, the varieties, monitoring the production processes in order to obtain a particular aromatic profile, in which identify your production. But above all, it offers him the opportunity to establish a relationship with the user of his coffee.

On the other hand, traceability allows the user to choose a coffee based on the label that clearly describes what he is buying, according to his own aromatic and ethical choices.

The roasting process is also carried out with much more information available on the chemistry of the beans, to improve the profile in the cup and to offer single origin or blends with characteristics defined by aroma and identity.

Traceability and transparency therefore go in the same direction.

By Erminia Nodari Passionate and curious about the human sciences and the processes of nature. I love good books and great coffees.I’m roaster and storyteller at Critical Coffee.

The Slow Food Coffee Coalition was created with the aim of creating new connections and improving the relationship between farmers and consumers, to strengthen the first and most fragile link in the chain and promote the identity and knowledge of coffee with those who choose it every day. You too can participate, by signing the manifesto.

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