Rome

Illy to star at Milan Expo 2015's 'coffee cluster'

Program tours world before bringing gusto to world fair

Illy to star at Milan Expo 2015's 'coffee cluster'

(By Sandra Cordon) Rome, September 6 - Like espresso and sugar, the union between Italy's renowned Illy coffee brand and Milan Expo 2015 seems an ideal match. The connection is especially strong in the context of Milan Expo's theme, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" as Illy products have been energizing coffee lovers for 80 years. The coffee "cluster" or pavilion at Milan's world fair will offer not only coffee products to purchase and consume, but presentations on the history of the bean, its social and cultural importance, and how it is cultivated, harvested and converted around the world into a beloved beverage. "Thanks to the fundamental contribution of Illy, this (coffee) cluster will be one of the most attractive and most visited pavilions of Expo Milano 2015," Giuseppe Sala, Expo 2015 commissioner, told a news conference in Rome this week. "We are confident that Illy-organized exhibitions, events and conferences can make the most of the history, unique and extraordinary, that every variety of this food brings," said Sala. But before Illy's presentation opens at Expo 2015, it will spend the next 20 months travelling internationally on a road show that "will celebrate coffee and disseminate the culture of the black drink, so widespread...but little known in its many fascinating peculiarities," according to Illy. The tour, which begins Monday in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will travel to nine cities in three different continents before settling in Milan in time for the world fair. Visitors will be able to follow the path, from lowly coffee bean to the consumer's cup; traditions and culture from coffee-growing countries; consider issues of sustainability; and finally, the health social aspects to the beverage. "Coffee is the drink that acts as a counterpoint to the everyday life of Italians," said Andrea Illy, chairman and chief executive of Illycafe SpA. "The espresso, true elixir of coffee, is one of the most recognized symbols of 'Made in Italy' around the world," he added at the Rome news conference with Sala. And that helped to inspire Illy to take the lead in the coffee pavilion for Milan Expo 2015. The concept will help to promote and expand coffee as a beverage of choice, added Robério Oliveira Silva, executive director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), an intergovernmental organization that brings together exporters and importers. "We wish all the best to the (Expo) coffee cluster," Silva, speaking from Brazil, told the news conference. "(It's) part of our great plan to promote coffee around the world". The Milan Expo, which runs May 1 until October 31 2015, is expected to attract more than 20 million visitors and to be a massive money spinner for the city known as Italy's business capital. Preparations on a 1.1-million-square-meter site have been underway for years. The Expo 2015 coffee pavilion will bring together the world's largest producers of the precious bean, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua and Uganda. The goal is to see these countries share not only space at Expo, but also ideas and experiences, while showing visitors how fragrances make each blend unique. In the cluster's common spaces, visitors will also be guided through stories and information with photographic displays by Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado, who has been collecting images for Illy since 2002. Milan Expo organizers say the coffee cluster will also become a meeting place to discuss critical challenges for the planet: from nutrition to the development of a sustainable agriculture. "We will build and offer the visitors a full experience around the world of coffee and the countries from where coffee comes," said Andrea Illy. "We will bring to...an international audience the history, know-how, innovation, taste and passion driving our company and found in every cup of our coffee".

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