A year and a half of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition

It’s been 18 months since the Slow Food Coffee Coalition (SFCC) was officially launched, but what has been achieved in that time.

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. In that time, 29 new Slow Food Communities were formed linked to coffee production in nine countries around the world including 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 organisation.

The eight Slow Food Communities which have already implemented a PGS are 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 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 existence is rooted in shared values and principles.

Yes, but the coffee? Traceable via blockchain
The results of the last year and a half of work were showcased at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, where the SFCC’s first six pilot coffees were available for tasting. They came from five of the Slow Food Communities who were chosen to introduce a PGS (in Cuba, Honduras, India, Mexico and Peru) and they have been processed by 11 different roasters (10 in Italy and one in Denmark).
Another significant innovation has 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.