The icon brand of Illycaffe is planning to be carbon-neutral by 2033, a date that coincides with their 100-year anniversary.
Chairman Andrew Illy, is planning to make the transition, which will require implementing measures across a large network of farmers, because he believes that by 2050 much of the land currently used to grow Arabica will no longer be capable to grow the delicate plant, due to the impact of climate change.
The mother of all causes now is climate change. It has to be a soil-to-soil carbon cycle. We need to sink carbon in the same soil where we grow our coffee
At the heart of the plan is to use better agricultural practices – something which critics may point out they have been calling for, for over a decade. Depleted soil that has been overworked will be replaced with a best-practice strategy of using cover-crops, agroforestry and a focus on maintaining health soil.
Illy also mentioned using soil health to trap carbon – something we have seen in other projects in both the coffee and cocoa sectors. This approach argues Illy, will also be ultimately more profitable for farmers.
We have made huge investments to minimize the environmental impact of processing: a recently completed project goes yet further, recovering heat produced during roasting and transforming it into hot water used throughout the plant. illy’s longstanding environmental policies and practices have merited numerous, major international recognitions and certifications
Understanding how this type of regenerative farming affects soil for coffee farmers is necessary and research is under-funded, Illy says. He estimates the funding for coffee research is circa $350m a year, but it should be triple that number. Bartalks went to the World Coffee Research members page and noted that Illycaffe is listed as a donator in the second highest category ($100,000 – $249,999)
Illy observed that the key to change may lie with the financial community, in particular the World Bank and ethical investment funds.
Finally, Illy mused on the impact of the Pandemic and how it has changed the buying behaviour of individuals. The company will focus more, in future, for the home market instead of the hospitality sector.