Lavazza puts sustainability first with Meta

Lavazza Meta

Lavazza is putting social, environmental and cultural attention on the Colombian coffee producing region of Meta, with a new blend that is helping to preserve and empower the future of coffee production.

Selecting the right blend is no easy task. It must be bold enough to hold a point of difference and cater to the majority of customer’s taste preferences. But most importantly, it needs to connect with the café’s ethos and beliefs.

For the first time in 28 years, The Pantry in Melbourne’s affluent suburb of Brighton has changed its blend to Lavazza’s La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia blend. Managing Director Guy Mainwaring says the process was a “monumental” task but one he was committed to.

“Our customers trust that when we do something new, we jump in with both feet,” he says. “In launching the La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia, we wanted to really showcase the story of the blend, its Colombian origins, and how it celebrates our city. We love what Lavazza do and thought this was a good way to show that.”

Just as The Pantry is passionate about storytelling and creating unique moments for its guests, it saw a similar synergy in roasting partner Lavazza. Guy says he was “blown away” by the story of the ¡Tierra! Colombia project and its ethical and sustainable origins. So much so, Guy commissioned a Tierra Tree of life mural with local artist Georgia Harvey to mark the occasion.

Developed in 2002 in collaboration with international non-profit organisation Rainforest Alliance (RFA), the Lavazza Foundation’s ¡Tierra! projects are the result of Lavazza’s commitment to sustainability, based on the three fundamental principles of product excellence, support and care for small communities, and respect for the planet.

The project in Meta, Colombia, is one of the 24 projects supported by Lavazza’s charitable, non-profit organisation, the Lavazza Foundation. Established in 2004, it has a presence in 18 countries across three continents, with more than 97,000 beneficiaries. They include small coffee growers – specifically coffee farmers that own around one hectare of land and cultivate coffee that lacks quality.

Through the ¡Tierra! Project, the Lavazza Foundation supports more than 100 farming families by helping restore plantations, improving coffee quality and productivity, and creating sustainable working conditions in Meta where armed conflict has long constrained the cultivation of coffee.

A sustainable future
For Silvio Zaccareo, Lavazza’s APAC Business Unit Director and Australia Managing Director, a sustainable coffee future is the only way forward. With climate change presenting a real threat to coffee producing regions and bean quality, La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia is one way the Lavazza Foundation can help safeguard the future of coffee and the sustainability of the Colombian coffee economy by implementing training programs for coffee producers.

“Our key areas of work include teaching agricultural techniques that allow producers to respond effectively to environmental damage, supporting reforestation, promoting the diversification of production, and introducing technical components to support coffee cultivation techniques,” says Silvio.

– Silvio Zaccareo is Lavazza’s APAC Business Unit Director and Australia Managing Director.

The program underway in the Meta region has also been developed with a special focus on promoting gender equality within families and communities, and women’s rights. Women make up 70 per cent of the workforce involved in coffee production across the Meta region, however only 20 per cent are involved in management.

The program also promotes and enhances the work of young people through coffee entrepreneurship training.

“Through these teachings, we are able to support farmers in the Meta region by empowering them with the tools they need to build sustainable agricultural practices,” Silvio says.

“We have achieved this by teaching farmers the skills necessary to overcome and respond to the effects of environmental damage, as well as harnessing them with the tools needed to sustain the longevity of their plantations and quality of their product, through innovative agriculture practices.”

One such beneficiary of the program is farmer Joanna, a young Colombian mother of six children. Joanna lost everything during the armed conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia —People’s Army guerrillas. She was determined to still live in her local community, which included the fertile land of the Meta coffee growing region in the foothills of the Andes.

In 2013, the Colombian government gave farming families like Joanna’s the land previously used to grow illegal crops. Joanna now harvests coffee, with her laborious efforts recognised in Lavazza’s La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia blend.

Silvio says supporting this blend is one way Australian coffee lovers and café operators can have a broader impact on the sustainable future of coffee, and the livelihoods of coffee farmers like Joanna.

“We believe it’s our responsibility as global citizens and have laid out an effective model of training, tools, and skills which enhance the lives and livelihoods of coffee farmers,” Silvio says.

“I take real pride in knowing that the work we’re doing each day is delivering a positive impact to every hand that touches our business.”

On a more local level, Lavazza Australia has received recognition from Work180 as an “endorsed employer for women”. Silvio says this is an achievement to be proud of, and reflects Lavazza Australia’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality in the workforce.

“We continue to focus on achieving more in this area of equality and ensuring we represent all aspects of the community in our workforce,” Silvio says.

He also hopes the company can be an example to other roasters and actively works to ensure its supply chains are sustainable and aptly supported, especially with increasing threats of climate change, natural disasters, and young workers abandoning plantations. Silvio says these are “the greatest challenges and threats to the global coffee producing industry”.

“As the climate continues to change across the globe, this will undoubtedly have an adverse impact on coffee production. With climate change comes an increase in natural disasters – known to completely destroy farms and negatively impact plantations and their local economies,” he says.

“Another threat is the increase in younger generation coffee farmers abandoning production lands. Part of our work in Meta is centred around enhancing the work of younger generations through training programs that motivate them to thrive in the coffee industry.”

Global relationships, local reach
Lavazza has always bought its coffee directly from growers and local coffee traders on the basis of specific selection criteria developed by its coffee experts.

Only the best coffee beans in Meta make their way to the bags of La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia, after being carefully roasted.

– Guy Mainwaring is the Managing Director of The Pantry in Brighton.

Temperature, altitude, solar radiation and availability of water make Meta one of the most outstanding coffee origins in the world. The fertile soil in the coffee regions of Colombia enables farmers to grow rich, high-quality coffee. The result of these idyllic conditions is coffee with a bright, full-bodied, and intense flavour profile.

Lavazza roasts a range of blends both internationally and locally, depending on the blend profile, internal supply chain, customer needs, and positioning of the product. In this instance, Lavazza deemed it appropriate to roast La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia in Melbourne.

“We intentionally embrace the significance of being locally roasted in Melbourne. Our story is based around being local and being a part of the community for 28 years. It just makes sense to offer a locally roasted blend that is also ethical and sustainable,” says Guy.
The Pantry began its relationship with Lavazza in 1993 when it first opened its doors in Brighton. Nearly 30 years later, the café and Italian roaster share a special bond that is deeply rooted in mutual commitment to delivering special coffee moments that celebrate Melbourne culture.

“Lavazza produces an amazingly consistent, high-quality product, and because of this, our guests know they are going to enjoy an exceptional coffee experience every single time,” Guy says.

“Melburnians are also known to spice-up their coffee of choice, and over the years our customers have enjoyed the many varieties of coffee we have on offer – from espressos and long-blacks to iced lattes. The Lavazza coffee base delivers a smooth flavour they have grown to love.”

New approach to sustainable coffee
Guy is aware of his responsibility to present a sustainable coffee offering to his consumers. After the past 12 months and seeing the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, Guy says he’s seen an increased sustainable consciousness from his customers, and it’s taught him to look out for others in a better way.

“It’s important to embrace fellow members of our local, national, and international communities by being aware of the ethical and sustainable nature of what we consume,” he says.

“As the coffee capital of the world, we need to lead the way in supporting all aspects of responsibly sourced, ethical, and sustainable produce. By offering La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Colombia at The Pantry, we’re actively supporting the sustainable future of coffee without compromising on flavour and quality.”

Silvio says as more cafés demand sustainable origins for their suppliers’ coffee beans, they will in turn encourage more roasters to be mindful of their own supply chains.

“It’s fantastic to see The Pantry collaborate with Lavazza on this important project. They are a valued partner of Lavazza. Their support has been instrumental in bringing the La Reserva de ¡Tierra! story to life, and we hope it will inspire other Australian cafés to investigate their own coffee bean origins,” he says. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but we’re seeing a continuous emergence of the coffee-conscious consumer, who expect more from their daily brew.

“Coffee-conscious consumers are passionate about the origin of their coffee and whether the supply chain it travels through is sustainable. Australian cafés must reflect this passion in their service offering in order to meet this growing demand.”

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This article appears in the June 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.
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