The Malongo Foundation

"The word ‘culture’ derives from the Latin word colere – to cultivate, to dwell, to take care, to tend and preserve – and it relates primarily to the intercourse of man with nature in the sense of cultivating and tending nature until it becomes ?t for human habitation". Hannah Arendt

For 20 years, Malongo has been expanding its actions far beyond its main activity. The company launched its own collection in 1994 and created the Culture department six years later. At the same time, the company is involved in development projects, in particular with small coffee producers. It organises symposia on Fair Trade and publishes a Journal du café newsletter whose articles discuss a wide range of subjects. In 2006, Malongo's influence was so significant that it increased its commitment by creating its own corporate Foundation: the Malongo Foundation, chaired by Xavier Rombouts. Administered by specialists from different domains, it features agronomists, for example, historians, or specialists in Culture and from the art world. It carries out actions in conjunction with agriculture and scientific research, but also enhances heritage and contemporary creation if they have a direct or indirect link with coffee.

The Foundation is involved in both emergency and long-term operations, such as the programme which it is implementing in Uciri, in Mexico, where it is helping to renew several coffee farms which have been seriously damaged by coffee rust fungus. For several years, the company worked with the MuCEM in discussion workshops on coffee, first of all, then on the development of the Café in exhibition which it fully co-produced. In 2014 in Cuba, it initiated the Los Caminos del Café project, which will run for several years. Via this major project, the Foundation is helping to restore and enhance the coffee-producing assets of the Santiago de Cuba region.

It develops its actions on various levels, both in France and abroad. More than just a sponsorship body, the Foundation encourages discussion and promotes gateways between disciplines. It works to bring together actors from a wide range of backgrounds, whether the European Union, major museums such as the MuCEM or from cultural associations such as l'Eclat in Nice.         

Finally, it commits its values within the company itself. First of all, it ensures that all of its key projects are presented to its members of staff by the people who are promoting them: exhibition commissioners, heritage curators, famous scientists and so on. Then it facilitates access to Culture by creating relationships with local institutions, such as the Théâtre National in Nice. 




The Foundation helps to develop training structures, together with local universities and encourages discussions between coffee-growers so that they can take advantage of shared knowledge. It encourages the restoration of old coffee farms and is involved in projects which combine agriculture and Culture, in particular in Mexico, Laos and Sao Tomé.

In Mexico, the Foundation has supported numerous income diversification projects: ecotourism in Chayotepec, projects to produce fruit juices, tea, maracuja and so on, which demonstrates real commitment to the producers with whom it works.



The Foundation is committed to environmental issues and supports scientific and agricultural science research, in particular this research raises the alarm in relation to the use of GMOs, pesticides and other herbicides. It is committed to the development of organic and diverse agriculture and which enhances the agroforestry system. 



The Malongo Foundation looks at Culture in its widest sense, from material and virtual heritage to contemporary creation. Since its creation it has been managing the Malongo collection, a collection which continues to expand and which enables it to look back into the history of coffee. But the Foundation is resolutely focussed on the future. The Foundation wants to examine every facet of coffee and has opened itself to contemporary creation by supporting numerous artistic projects related to coffee; it also launched its first Design contest in 2007. Finally, the Foundation has joined the publishing world, enabling the publication of certain works outside the usual commercial channels. 


The Malongo collection


Over the years, the Malongo collection has expanded with a wide variety of objects, bearing witness to the history of coffee and how this brew has been produced, marketed and highlighted down through the ages.  Housed in the Foundation's stores, the collection is open to the general public from time to time, during exhibitions in partnership with other institutions, such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de l'Océan Indien for   Le café à Bourbon 1708-1946. In some cases, coffee mills are loaned out, or posters or table services in others, to say nothing of pestles and other curiosities, such as for the Café In exhibition (MuCEM), which was co-produced by the Foundation.  



Le café à Bourbon, 1708-1946; des origines à la départementalisation (December 2008-June 2009):

Café In:








Malongo Design contest

Thanks to the wide range of objects in its collection, Malongo can dive into the history of coffee, from its production to its consumption. Launched in 2007 by Malongo and its corporate Foundation, the Design contest enables the company to look to the future.  By challenging young creators (students and young professionals) to invent new formats and new concepts, notably for use, it takes part in this general discussion, while enabling the winners to make strides in their careers.  




Support for contemporary creation

It is the Foundation's conviction that works of art help us see the world in a different light and enrich us on a human level; therefore, the Foundation is committed to supporting contemporary creation by promoting numerous projects in France and abroad.  Via these projects (from design to painting, from video to installation) it bears witness to how coffee may be looked upon, analysed and even questions today, in an unconventional way. The Foundation acts on several levels: by making its collection and its training department available to artists, by providing them with residencies and sometimes even by co-producing certain works, such as with l'Eclat in Nice. 


The projects that are already being supported:

ACME, villa Arson:

Artists' residence in Cuba, Los Caminos del Café:

PrototYp, Ralentissez des hommes travaillent:

See the film:  >>> Film.

L'Eclat Nice:


Publishing support

Even before the Foundation was created, Malongo launched a policy to support the publishing sector, by enabling the publication of works which were away from the traditional marketing circuit.

Today, the Foundation continues to follow this policy and has recently committed funding to publish works and DVDs on sensitive, even controversial, topics.

Projects supported:

La trilogie papoue, 1983 - 1992, Paris

Publication of  DVD retracing the history of this Papuan tribe: its first contact with Australian gold prospectors in 1930 and the consequences of this contact in the modern world.


La fabuleuse aventure du café, 2006, Paris

This book, which is illustrated with original engravings and designs, retraces coffee's adventure via major themes (history and legends of coffee, living arts, coffee production, Fair Trade and more). 



Franco-Cuban relations are intimately linked to the history of coffee, since they began in 1791 when thousands of French coffee growers landed in Cuba following the Haitian Revolution. From this point, these cafetal owners developed a coffee-based economy and culture which would make Cube the leading producer in the world by the end of the XIXth century.  


In the year 2000, UNESCO registered the first coffee farms in south east Cuba on its World Heritage List, as part of the Archaeological landscape.

In 2014, on the initiative of the Oficina del Conservador of the Ciudad de Santiago de Cuba and the Malongo Foundation, Los Caminos del Café was launched. This heritage rescue and rehabilitation programme is supported and co-financed by the European Union.

It relates to old cafetal, including the famous Fraternidad and in an urban setting, the Casa Dranguet, spaces which are designed as interpretation sites, but also meeting and creation areas, in particular in artists' residences.   


Los Caminos del Café should contribute to the cultural and socio-economic development of the region. Its main objective is to open up this heritage and create awareness of it with tourists and Cubans alike, through actions carried out by responsible tourism.



Los Caminos del Caféis made possible thanks to associates who have been selected for their expertise and vision: Institut du Patrimoine wallon – Belgium, Casa del Caribe – Santiago de Cuba, Association générale des Conservateurs des Collections publiques de France, Catedra de Estudio Franco-Cubanos y Caribenos Montaigne/Montesquieu – Santiago de Cuba, Asociación Mundial de Expertos en Turismo– Francia – Turismo, Fédération des Parcs naturels régionaux de France – Paris – France, Fundación Ludwig de Cuba – Havana – Cuba, Microclima – Venice–Italy.


Contact the Foundation: