We remember good stories and good flavours
Lenita Ingelin, Managing Director of Paulig Coffee, visited coffee farms in Costa Rica and East Africa last December. She appreciates high-quality coffee and the work it requires. She hopes that some day coffee, especially coffee served in restaurants, will have the same status as wine today, in other words, that it will be a product that has a story to tell.
The turn of the year was an important milestone for us at Paulig because our dream came true: 100% of the coffee we acquire comes from sources that are verified sustainable. This was a bold and ambitious goal that we set ourselves four years ago without knowing exactly how to get there. However, after a great deal of effort, together with our partners, we were one of the first big roasteries in the world to achieve it.
Why is it so important to us? Simply because we firmly believe that only companies that are genuinely involved in long-term sustainability work can succeed in the future. Consumers want to commit to brands that have the same values as theirs. We meet consumer expectations and ensure that we can all enjoy high-quality coffee in the future. Our work covers the entire value chain from coffee farmer to coffee lover. It is important to ensure a sufficient income for the farmer by improving productivity. Otherwise, there is a risk that coffee will become a delicacy of the few.
In Finland, we really cherish our daily coffee moments — no wonder, then, that we drink the most coffee in the world per capita. We have taken coffee for granted for so long that we do not necessarily realise what a wonderful natural product it is. Coffee is actually like wine: different varieties and countries of origin with their soils and unique growing environments offer a breathtaking spectrum of flavours that emerges during the roasting process. But before coffee can start its journey to our roastery, it has already gone through a whole series of work stages from the growing of the coffee plants to the picking and processing of berries at stations where the berries are washed and dried and sorted by quality. I have personally had the opportunity to observe this work both in East Africa and Costa Rica. After seeing the vast amount of work that the coffee farmer does for our high-quality coffee, I view this great product with humility and appreciation. I never want to pour one drop of coffee down the drain!
Coffee brings people together
Last week, our Vuosaari roastery was visited by coffee farmer José Teletor Camaja from Guatemala. He was interested in seeing where his coffee beans end up and he wanted to see if it is really true that people in Finland drink almost 20 packages of coffee per person per year. I hope he liked the coffees we made and he is as impressed with our world as we are with his. Transparency and cooperation throughout the coffee value chain help us develop the chain in the long term; the more you learn about the production chain, the more you respect it.
How can we pass on to coffee lovers the information and feelings from the countries of origin and the everyday life of the farmer, his joys and his worries? How can we arouse the curiosity of consumers to explore different varieties and flavours of coffee? How can we increase the number of coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs?
I believe that all this can be achieved through inspirational stories and experiences. Cafés and restaurants are the key here, just as with other trends. People go there to try out new things. Professionals are able to tell stories about the food and drinks on the menu.
I have a dream. It would be wonderful if more restaurants had a wider selection of interesting coffees, and we were told stories about the nature, origin and even the farmer of each coffee, just as we are told about the qualities of wines and ingredients of food. Coffee is often the last taste experience for the customer and, at best, it leaves an awesome aftertaste that is brought about by the coffee as well as the story.