illy takes special pride in its longstanding relationships with the people who raise coffee on four continents – bonds borne of mutual respect, pursuit of a common goal and shared prosperity. Coffee is a journey, and its farmers the stewards of coffee’s lands, legacies, communities and cultures.
Theirs is a story of sustainability quite like no other: one illy has beautifully shared with the world through the lens of Sebastiao Salgado, the renowned social photographer. In Principio (“In the Beginning”) is a photographic journey spanning Brazil, India, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Colombia, exploring the very roots of coffee culture. Salgado’s moving images convey that for farmers, cultivation, harvesting, drying and selection of coffee aren’t merely actions, but rather, rituals deeply steeped in history and pride.
Salgado approached the nearly decade-long project from an unusually ideal vantage point. Born in 1944 in Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s major coffee growing regions, he found work as an economist for the International Coffee Organization. But photography went from avocation to calling, and in 1973, Salgado started a career in images by documenting the lives of poor, migrant workers in Latin America and Africa.
The collaboration with Salgado brings into sharp focus illy’s enduring commitment to sustainable development, its respect for local cultures and its love for the lands that nurture coffee. Out of continual collaborations with farmers have grown relationships characterized by respect, fair exchange and growth, with a shared understanding of the power that ever-improving quality wields to improve lives.
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