Sunday, 27 September 2015

Coffee in Venice - The Good Guys Unite!

Afghan Refugee Girl by Steve McCurry
(Venice, Italy) You already know award-winning photojournalist Steve McCurry because he took one of the most iconic images of all time, Afghan Refugee Girl back in 1984.

And if you know anything about coffee, you already know that family-run Lavazza is "Italy's Favorite Coffee," and invented the concept of blending different types of coffee from different geographical regions to create its unique products.

Francesca Lavazza, the Corporate Image Manager, is the great-granddaughter of the founder, Luigi Lavazza, who opened Lavazza's first shop in 1895 in Turin, 120 years ago, and she was here in Venice to present the new agreement between the city and her family's company -- her grandfather was Venetian.

Piero Rosa Salva and Francesca Lavazza
VELA is the Venice Municipal Council company responsible for marketing the City of Venice, and for the commercial development of its transport. VELA is the main organizer of the traditional Venetian events in town, such as the Carnival, the Regata Storica and the Festa del Redentore. It handles the season ticket campaign for La Fenice Opera House, the Malibran Theater, the box office for the Goldoni Theater, the Venice Biennale, Venezia Unica City Pass, all the main sporting events -- even the tickets for the vaporetto. The Chairman of VELA is Piero Rosa Salva, who is Venetian to his core.

Farmers Sift Coffee Cherries at Plantation by Steve McCurry, Brazil, 2010
The Foundation of the Civic Museums of Venice (Musei Civici, or MUVE) administers the eleven city museums, one of the most important complexes in Europe. By virtue of his office, Luigi Brugnaro, the controversial new mayor of Venice, is the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of MUVE. Only in office since June 15th, Brugnaro immediately made headlines when he yanked 49 books about tolerance from the city's pre-schools, sparking a Twitter war with Elton John and uniting 267 Italian authors who asked him to ban their books, too, in a gesture of solidarity. Brugnaro also cancelled the contracts of 18 city library employees, and declared that he would ban any gay pride parade in Venice.

© Gianni Berengo Gardin
Gianni Berengo Gardin, the renowned Italian photographer, was supposed to have a show about the cruise ships in the Doge's Palace, part of the MUVE museum complex, opening on September 19, 2015 entitled Monsters in Venice, "a powerful exhibition intended to make one think about these monsters that threaten Venice daily...", but Brugnaro, a strong supporter of the cruise ship industry, postponed it to coincide with an exhibit about his own plans for the lagoon. When asked if he would modify his exhibit, Berengo said: "Certainly not. I know even without the Ducal Palace, the exhibit will go on. I don't know where, but it will be a success."

Next, Walter Hartsarich, the respected President of MUVE, suddenly resigned after an impressive five years at the helm.

Luigi Brugnaro was on the list of speakers at the press conference on September 22, 2015 entitled LAVAZZA IN VENICE: A PARTNERSHIP WITH VELA AND MUVE and Presenting STEVE McCURRY, From These Hands - A Journey Along the Coffee Trail, but unfortunately could not attend because of another meeting. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say, especially in the presence of Steve McCurry, another renowned photographer whose work captures the soul. I later learned that the mayor did attend the opening that evening, so it was nice to know that he did show his support.

A Young Man Carries a Sack of Coffee by Steve McCurry, Ethiopia, 2014
Steve McCurry and Francesca Lavazza have been working together for years on Tierra, Lavazza's first independent Corporate Social Responsibility project which focuses on helping small coffee farmers improve their conditions. Started in 2002, the Tierra project improves the living conditions and economic growth of coffee farming communities, building schools, homes, and infirmaries, and helping the farmers get the most of their their land and work. These are small farmers who actually touch every single coffee bean by hand, which are then blended together to create a special Tierra coffee, which you can buy and enjoy, and do your own bit for a sustainable future.

Francesca Lavazza is passionate about her family's coffee and glows when she talks about the Tierra project. They work with the Rainbow Alliance in a partnership that focuses on three fundamental issues: the quality of the end product, a concern for the living conditions of the people in coffee producing countries, and environmental impart. She said that Lavazza asked Steve McCurry to document the stories of their efforts because they liked his sensibility. They met eleven years ago over a cup of coffee. "That's the magical thing about coffee. It is a social drink that brings people together."

Photos from 12 different countries -- Brazil, Burma, Columbia, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Yemen -- have been gathered together in a book and an exhibition called, FROM THESE HANDS: A JOURNEY ALONG THE COFFEE TRAIL.

The Venice Insider
Cat Bauer and Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry said how rewarding it was to see the farmers actually learn, and that coffee is part of our everyday lives, but we don't think about where it comes from. "I was a young man when we started the project, and now I have no hair."

The exhibition of 62 of McCurry's powerful photographs was designed by the architect, Fabio Novembre, to whom McCurry gave full credit for the unique presentation. The photos are blown-up and back-lit in a winding labyrinth that immerses the viewer in the lives of the coffee farmers. The show takes place in the new space down at Aresnale Nord, TESA 113, which has been restored into a very cool exhibition venue.

Young Woman from the Suri tribe by Steve McCurry, Ethiopia, 2013
It was refreshing to meet a company like Lavazza, which cares so deeply about sustainable development, and puts such personal care into their product and the human beings who produce it. It is an honor that they have chosen to support Venice, Vela and the Civic Museums in a three-year agreement, and that the first collaboration is the prestigious Steve McCurry exhibition.

In the States, you can find the Tierra blend at Gelsons. If it's not there, just tell them you want it. In the Bay area and beyond, you can find it:

Corti Brothers
5810 Folsom St.
Sacramento 95819

Corral Market
2 Corral De Tierra Rd.
Salinas 93908

Genova Deli
1550 Trancas Rd.
Napa 94558

Deluxe Foods
783 Rio Del Mar
Aptos 95003

Lavazza is a 1.34 billion euro business, the world's seventh ranking coffee roaster and the retail market leader in Italy with a market share by value of over 47% -- which goes to show that you can care about the environment and still make a nice profit.

Steve McCurry Exhibition at Arsenale Nord - TESA 113
September 23 to November 8
ACTV vaporetto lines 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2 - Bacini Arsenale Nord stop
FREE ENTRANCE, daily from 10:00AM to 6:00PM

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. You already know award-winning photojournalist Steve McCurry because he took one of the most iconic images of all time, Afghan Refugee Girl back in 1984. And if you know anything about coffee, you already know that family-run Lavazza is "Italy's Favorite Coffee," and invented the concept of blending different types of coffee from different geographical regions to create its unique products.


  2. Theresa Cheek
    to me
    21 hours agoDetails
    Theresa Cheek has left a new comment on your post "Coffee in Venice - The Good Guys Unite!":

    What a wonderful article Cat! It is nice to know the background and integrity of Lavazza.

  3. Thank you so much, Theresa! In this rapidly changing world, it is important to know there are responsible companies with integrity like Lavazza who have been in it for the long haul.