A New Era for Coffee in Colombia

A new day is dawning in Colombia, where the government’s accord last year with FARC, the large rebel group who had pursued their leftist agenda for decades, at times through well-documented violent means, has ushered in a climate of stability and optimism.

For over 20 years, illy has been sourcing coffee from Colombia, and even while instability reigned, we were on the ground educating Colombian farmers in high-quality, sustainable coffee production methods, guaranteeing a profit to producers who met our quality standards, and helping develop second income streams through honey production.

Now, illy has pledged to work with all of Colombia’s stakeholders, including former FARC members, to stimulate higher-quality production and economic growth, and help promote lasting stability. This past weekend, we were proud to bring journalists from around the world to select coffee growing regions in the country to witness this evolution firsthand, and get a rare glimpse of coffee tourism in its infancy. As part of the tour, our media guests had the opportunity to meet former members of FARC whom illy is now training in these same high-quality growing methods, aimed at sustaining production, income and stability for the long term.

The tour concludes this week in Medellin, where the global coffee community will gather at the annual World Coffee Growers Forum. With climate change already taking a toll on high-quality Arabica supply, and urgent, coordinated action overdue, I will present and argue for adoption of the Coffee Gap – Global Adaptation Plan: a blueprint to unite coffee companies, governments and NGOs to keep coffee thriving amidst changing climate, ensure ongoing livelihoods for the world’s 25 million coffee farm workers, and keep the price of high-quality coffee within an acceptable range.

I will be sharing thoughts and observations from the Forum on Twitter this week, and I invite you to follow them here.