1,684. That’s how many cups of coffee are drunk in the world every second. Espresso, lungo, macchiato or cappuccino? Coffee is part of our lives from the moment we get up in the morning to awaken our taste buds and boost our day.

This dark beverage with its bitter smell has become an icon at EXKi. And with good reason: it can be savoured alone or shared with friends.

However, even if this is the world's most popular drink, the situation behind the scenes in coffee production is sometimes grim. This is why, as of 2003, EXKi decided to serve better coffee. Better for the customer, better for the coffee growers, but also better for nature.

Come and find out what lies hidden behind your little cup with the carrot!

 

Coffee, a family affair!

Sit at your table with your EXKi coffee. Close your eyes and follow the fragrance of freshly ground coffee with your nose: you will find yourself… at Café Liégeois.

Café Liégeois is a family business run by Michel and Benoît Liégeois. They have always been passionate about good coffee and are constantly in search of quality. The market is surprised by the dynamism of their business surprises: they supply Grandes Origines coffees and market coffee produced in natural, healthy conditions. They stand out mainly as regards this environmental aspect: they adopt an environmental approach and their coffee comes from the fair trade sector. Indeed, this is why it was granted the Max Havelaar licence, a branch of the Fairtrade International organisation guaranteeing that products come from fair trade.

This is the coffee selected for EXKi.

Fairtrade and Organic beans, a hot, comforting coffee

What lies behind these mysterious ‘Fairtrade’ and ‘Organic’ titles? Let us tell you a little about them.

Coffee has become the most highly valued and widely marketed tropical agricultural product in the world. According to the figures from the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), world coffee production amounted to over 10.2 million tonnes in 2018. It provides a livelihood for over 125 million producers in 56 countries around the world. Nevertheless, these countries face difficulties, in particular because of the purchase price of coffee, which varies hugely.

To help local producers make sufficient quantities to be able to survive, entities have been created. These enable the coffee growers to centralise their production means and thereby reduce their production costs efficiently. This is why a number of cooperatives have been set up, in particular in Bolivia.

Bolivia ranks just 30th among the coffee-producing countries, even though it benefits from excellent conditions to produce high-quality coffee: a mountainous terrain and a warm, humid climate. Despite the ideal conditions, coffee production struggles to increase.

In fact, Bolivian coffee growers currently face a series of obstacles that prevent the efficient, lasting production of coffee beans: logistics problems, lack of investment, climate change, the volatility of the coffee price and more. Growers battle daily with the various hurdles that curb their production. But the crux of the matter is the remuneration, which we aim to be fair for our producers. An effective response? Fair trade!

How does EXKi support Bolivian producers? By working hand in hand with them!

Our producers grow coffee vertically in the Yungas region of Bolivia, on fertile soil that yields a very fruity, prime quality coffee.

EXKi coffee bears the Fairtrade and organic label, which means that it guarantees compliance with the stringent rules of fair trade with the producers and environmental conservation.

Fair trade is a commercial partnership set up to offer an alternative to traditional international trade with the objective of achieving harmonious, long-term development for underprivileged and marginalised producers.

The Fairtrade International organisation aims to develop a fair trade label. This label highlights the environmental aspect thanks to specifications which producers have to comply with: waste processing and the treatment of fields, ban on the use of herbicides and the promotion of organic farming. This label also guarantees the living, pay and working conditions of the various producers. Finally, it ensures a minimum price for producers, who will no longer have to worry about the volatility of the coffee price.

At EXKi, we aim to offer you a good, authentic product. Which is why we decided to take part in this cooperative. We turn the spotlight on our producers because we want them to be able to work in adequate conditions. We believe that offering organic Fairtrade coffee is an effective and adequate response for producers and their families. This is why in 2004 we decided to obtain our coffee supplies from the fair trade sector. By buying this coffee, you extend the circle of producers who benefit from this system.

What’s more, EXKi has been supporting projects in the Yungas region since 2012. For the period 2018 to 2022, EXKi is funding the salary of an agronomic engineer working on site via the NGO SOS FAIM (sosfaim.com), as well as the Grand Prix of the best development project in local subsistence farming (three prize winners every two years).

Coffee Team and Café Liégeois joined these projects alongside EXKi as of the start of 2012: Johan Declercq (Fairtrade Label Organisation), Gregory Dupuis (Coffee Team), Nicolas Steisel (EXKi) and Michel Liégeois (Café Liégeois).

As of 2015, we decided to obtain our coffee supplies from Bolivia, but also to support coffee producers from Mexico. ¡ Ay Caramba ! Blending these two types gives us a coffee with the fragrance of travel and a dreamy froth.

 

What happens in the restaurants?

Coffee with friends, a great time

Choosing the right suppliers is good, but it’s not everything. In the restaurants, the coffee served is roasted and hot, just as it should be, as comforting as an open fire.

Our team members become baristas every day. The range includes cappuccino and lungo but also macchiato or a simple espresso. And what about a touch of extravagance to go with it? Add syrup or try the Belgoccino®!

A mutually supportive coffee for the most solitary among us

And how do you take your coffee? Strong, long, nutty or mutually supportive?

Coffee is a ritual for some, a luxury for others. Since not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford a coffee, EXKi offers you the opportunity to take part in a mutually supportive action.

Every year, we organise the Share a Coffee campaign. The aim? To offer coffee to the most deprived. When you pay, you can opt to add one euro for this campaign. This donation will be passed on to our partner associations La Mie de Pain and Opération Thermos so that they can offer the equivalent of the amount collected to the homeless in coffees. Last year, we collected the equivalent of 286,325 coffees, which represents over a year’s stock for each association! You can even see the smiles reflected in the cups.

The target for 2020? To break the record!

And that’s not all. At EXKi, coffee is essential. What about the coffee grounds: do you think we just throw them out?

We make a point of reusing our waste. This is why we joined forces with Permafungi when it was established in 2014. Permafungi is a Belgian organisation that recovers our coffee grounds to make them into… oyster mushrooms! The micro-elements contained in coffee grounds provide an ideal substrate for growing these mushrooms.

And so every week the coffee grounds used in eight of our Brussels restaurants are recovered by bike! Because there’s no waste in nature, why not follow its example?