Coffee & Happiness - the virtuous circle we want (and need) to nurture

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It is for us at illycaffè of particular interest that one of the focuses of this year’s World Happiness Report is Latin America: my family, and more than any of us, my sister Anna, has been working hands in hands with coffee growers in Latin America for nearly 40 years, helping them raise the quality of their output, earn higher prices for their achievements and build sustainable enterprises. Indeed, more than two-thirds of the beans that comprise the illy blend are sourced from this part of the world.

Our relationships with coffee growers in Latin America, and throughout the world, are based on a mutual respect that has created sustainably higher incomes and stronger societies.

My father pioneered this model in Brazil in the early 1980s through a program called The Brazil Award, which incentivized farmers to strive for quality over quantity. It proved transformational to Brazilian coffee’s reputation, and to growing farmers’ incomes. The award continues to this day, and it, plus a related educational component, called the University of Coffee, is now present in many of the world’s coffee growing countries. More recently, following the peace reached in Colombia in 2016, we instituted a program that is training former guerilla fighters to grow coffee, in beautiful, arable growing regions that are now blossoming with coffee plants.

I’d like to think that happiness is blossoming along with it.

Working with the Latin America coffee communities we have always been pleasantly surprised by the passion they put in their daily job, by the results that our common work was giving and by the existing harmony between people and nature. The reason appears clearly in this report.

To summarize the findings detailed in Chapters 5 and 6, Latin Americans were found to have higher-than-average scores for happiness, across the spectrum of income levels.

The researchers found that deeply-ingrained cultural traits, such as the high value that Latin Americans attach to nurturing family relationships, and to interpersonal ties more generally, has imbued them with an overarching cultural happiness, whether rich or poor. As Chapter 6 posits, a mixing of numerous ethnic populations throughout Latin America over many centuries (to be sure, often not initially through peaceful means) created an enduring interpersonal harmony that many other regions are still striving to achieve.

We have always believed that coffee is, quite literally, the beverage of happiness; something remarkably simple yet complex that brings so much pleasure to so many every day, all over the world. Coffee helps us greet the day, and has been given credit (rightfully so) as the catalyst of great conversations and big ideas.

Pursuing this, we also aim to generate value at all level of the chain, from the plant to the cup: this means not only bringing pleasure and wellbeing to the coffee lovers all over the world, but also, by doing so, supporting the development of the coffee growing communities who produce our beans.

Nurturing this virtuous circle is the sense of our ante litteram sustainability model, which my father intuitively pioneered many years ago and which remains the base of our daily work.

One cup after the other, coffee consumption generates social & economic development, creating a virtuous circle where the wellbeing enjoyed by consumers and the care provided to the growers are nurturing each other. Pleasure, wellbeing and care for others are fundamental element of happiness - and this is the reason why LIVEHAPPilly has been our anthem & inspiration for many years now, rooting deeply in the history of illycaffè: a stakeholder company, founded on the core values of ethics and excellence, born on the dream to offer the best coffee to the world.

Andrea Illy
Chairman, illycaffè