On October 31st, Expo Milan 2015 became history. Over the course of six months, it featured the presence of 40 coffee producer countries and most of the world’s coffee consumer countries, providing them with a unique opportunity for encounter. Expo 2015 catalyzed projects of global interest whose ultimate goal is to foster the debate on topics such as sustainability, the working conditions of coffee producers, and climate change. The Coffee Cluster was an exceptional way to not only celebrate coffee but to improve awareness of the coffee growers’ communities and promote their healthy and sustainable growth.
On September 30th and October 1st, Expo hosted the first Global Coffee Forum, where members of the coffee sector came together to debate the three virtues of coffee – pleasure, health and sustainability. In particular, the address delivered by Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, dealt with the topic of sustainability, a focus of the objectives in the coffee sector and on an international level. Two important institutional accords were also reached during Expo: in May, an agreement was made for the transfer of knowledge in Ethiopia, and recently, in Colombia, we signed a declaration of intent with SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) – at a Ceremony attended by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Vice President of Colombia, German Vargas Llera – to initiate international cooperation in pursuit of the goal of knowledge transfer and best practice in the production and preparation of coffee.
During the first International Coffee Day, the Milan Coffee Legacy – an appendix to the Milan Chart – was presented. In synthesis, the Coffee Legacy states that coffee represents a virtuous circle because it creates economic value benefiting the rural communities which grow it, but at the same time brings well-being, pleasure and health to the people who consume it. This virtuous circle must be fostered and enhanced by increasing product value through quality, differentiation and sustainability. Knowledge sharing, financing and enabling coffee growers to implement the needed changes and address potential threats, including climate change, are vital necessities for coffee producing countries and proposed initiatives dealing with these topics will soon see the light. The idea to create a Coffee Legacy Document was born and developed in its very first stages at the working table n. 23 for the Milan Chart. The declaration was drafted in the footprint of the Belo Horizonte document and is now an appendix to the Milan Chart. The meaning and the goal of the Coffee Legacy itself is an important result of the Expo, a concrete commitment for the future and for the post-Expo era in general.
Between May 1st and October 31st, over 13 million people visited the Coffee Cluster. Illycaffè, the Official Coffee Partner of Expo 2015, coordinated the Cluster project and its contents, and the illy coffee bar served 870,000 coffee-based products to visitors to the pavilion. It was a true success, with over 35,000 traditional guided tours and digital tours using Epson Moverio glasses, and almost 12,000 people participating in the courses organized by the Università del Caffè revolving around Expo’s general topic: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” It also gave us the opportunity to present important innovations, such as the illycaffè Personal Blender.
During the six months of the Universal Exposition, Trieste, the coffee capital, celebrated coffee at its Salone degli Incanti (from July 22nd to November 8th) thanks to the collaboration of the local institutions. Encouraged by the success of this exhibit, illycaffè would be happy to transfer part of the Coffee Cluster to Trieste in order to continue the celebration with a dedicated permanent museum, for example, a project which should be the focus of a public-private partnership.
Thanks to its enormous success and the sheer numbers of the event, Expo Milano 2015 truly can be defined the “greatest celebration of coffee in history.” But Expo was also an extraordinary promotional showcase for the Made in Italy brand as a whole, giving new confidence to Italian producers and involving increasing numbers of foreign investors. Without a doubt, Expo has helped encourage today’s positive economic trend by proposing new and exceptional projects. Italy’s revival must continue; the Expo site must become a symbol of Italy, a place of national interest concentrating all our knowledge of Italian learning and the changing world (sustainability, biodiversity, exponential technologies, and arts and crafts). We are responsible for this valuable patrimony and we are now ready to fully take advantage of the precious lessons the Expo experience has taught us.