Kahlua’s Coffee for Good Initiative Supports Sustainable Development

The company’s method employs environmental economic, social, and environmental methods to boost the lives of communities that cultivate coffee and to encourage sustainable farming practices.



Photos by Bethan Mackenzie

Although you may be familiar with its iconic yellow-and-red cup of coffee liqueur Kahlua has a rich story that was born in Veracruz, Mexico. It was created from the idea of creating an arabica-based coffee liqueur that was made from coffee from the region. In the present, Kahlua remains a popular coffee liqueur because of its distinctive flavor profile and its versatility in drinks, including coffee cocktails that are growing in popularity each day.

In the last six years, the Pernod Ricard owned brand has been trying to increase the sustainability of its supply chain for coffee with a particular concentration on helping farmers who cultivate the coffee beans that are used to make its liqueur, as part of the Coffee for Good initiative.

Helping to improve the lives of the Coffee Farmers in Mexico

In 2016 Kahlua started the Coffee For Good initiative to enhance the lives of communities who grow coffee and encourage sustainable agriculture practices. The company collaborated with the local NGO Fondo para la Paz, and Agroecological experts INIFAP and experts in coffee farming CAFECOL to finance the sustainable development strategy.

This strategy is founded on three main factors: social, environmental and economic. Kahlua believes that each one influence the other. Six years since the Coffee for Good initiative was launched, Kahlua is celebrating its biggest harvest, which is the goal of a sustainable 100% coffee harvest that covers all production by the end of November 2022. To celebrate this milestone Kahlua developed a no-cost toolkit for download that contains all the necessary information for the three-factor approach to development.

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“Kahlua is synonymous with good times however, for those good times to last we realized that the ways we consume, conduct business and ultimately live needed to be changed,” says Giancarlo Martins the global marketing manager for Pernod Ricard. “So as the world’s most well-known coffee liqueur We knew that we needed to act. We set off on an extended sustainable journey that required returning to the beginning, to the place of birth of Kahlua in Veracruz.”

Coffee farmer Venancio Zepahua of Oxtotitla.

The Three Pillars of Coffee for Good

Fondo for La Paz’s three-pronged approach for sustainable development is built upon environmental economic, social, and environmental pillars. Kahlua’s toolkit for free provides comprehensive details about how you can implement this method with a particular special attention to the supply chain for coffee.

The Coffee For Good project is currently working with a total of four villages that are remote in the mountains of Veracruz (Ocotempa, Atempa, Oxtotitla, Coxititla) and around 473 farmer families. Let’s review of the effects of the program by looking at it through the lens of its three principals.

Environmental: Working with local experts, Fondo para la Paz created a set of best methods to ensure sustainable coffee cultivation. These include methods to conserve soil and water and planting trees that provide the appropriate amount of shade to coffee plants. Training for farmers is an important aspect of the curriculum, with both experienced farmers and those who are just beginning to get started being taught about the management of coffee as well as crop diversification and sustainable farming methods.

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Social:The Coffee for Good initiative is also focused on enhancing social cohesion as well as the equality of women and men in coffee-growing communities. Fondo Para la Paz, as well as the community collaborated to construct dry toilets and rainwater tanks in close proximity to homes and eliminated the requirement for women to travel a long distance to the closest water source. Women are now able to assume important tasks in the planning and management of finances.

Economic:A key part of the Coffee for Good initiative is giving farmers the tools and knowledge needed to be financially secure. It has also provided budgeting and finance training, which was then continued by women in the villages, and applied to their own businesses. This has helped improve long-term yields while preserving soil fertility and diversity of the soil. Farmers have learned to increase their yields by planting vanilla, plantain as well as maize. They could sell to earn additional income.

Coffee farmer Marcela Tlehuactle from Atempa.

Looking ahead

The Kahlua company hopes that its free industry toolkit can inspire other businesses to come up with a solution that could be useful for them, too. And in the immediate future, Kahlua plans to expand the Coffee For Good program to two more villages–Popocatepec and Mitepec–as well as implement scholarships for young people to attend agricultural college, strengthen leadership skills for women, and provide farmers with Wi-Fi access.

“By cooperating in partnership with Fondo para la Paz, we’re extremely proud of the program that’s Coffee For Good, but we’re also aware that , as an organization, the goalposts are always shifting,” says Giancarlo. “We’re always seeking an opportunity to take the next step on our journey.”

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Kahlua’s accomplishments through Kahlua’s success with the Coffee for Good initiative so far is a great example of what can be achieved when companies take on sustainability initiatives. With the right partnership and approach sustainable methods can be beneficial for the business, the environment and the people who rely on the products of the company to provide their livelihoods.


Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior correspondent online for Barista Magazine, as well as a freelance copywriter and editor with a particular focus on the coffee industry. She has also served as a volunteer copywriter for I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, which provides information to the public understand baristas and the work they do. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

This article was first published at Barista Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to baristas and coffee professionals.

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