Nespresso is what you call a well established name in coffee country. And no ladies and gentlemen I am not referring to icon George Clooney, but I am referring to their coffee as they are one of the major players in the market when it comes to portioned coffee. When I was invited to take a look behind the scenes I was intrigued. What happens before that moment that you put that little shiny cup into your machine at home? Where does the coffee come from and what is behind the philosophy of Nespresso?
We started our discovery in snowy Lausanne where we stayed in hotel Palace for our first night after arrival. Early the next morning we went on our way to Avenches which is where the Nespresso factory is based and the heart of the company. Photography is not allowed by visitors but we did receive photos that showed exactly that what we saw. So all the photos you see here are supplied by Nespresso.. I thought the tour was very impressive. There is so much more behind the company than you might suspect. Sustainability is one of their key points and their triple A status for the coffee suppliers is an example of good business practice if you ask me.
Tasting of the green coffee is something we got to do ourselves and I can tell you first hand that it is not so simple! And remember we ‘only’ had to taste four different coffee’s. Which were essentially just two; one correct one and a faulty one. One was brazilian and the other was Ethiopian. That first tasting is done on single origin. The blends are created much later in the process. I found the difference in smell really hard to find, I don’t think I would be a really good coffee sniffer.. 😉 But when it came to taste I thought the Brazilian coffee was clearly much more my taste than the more flowery Ethiopean coffee. I could taste that one was good and the other was not so good, but I couldn’t really say what was wrong with the defected coffee.
There is a good reason why a taster on the panel goes through a one year training before they are considered to be good enough to become a taster. But it was fun trying it out for ourselves. The quality checks on all the coffee are done straight from the source right on to the moment the coffee arrives by train to Avenches.
Once there, only 1% is rejected as not being good enough but when the coffee gets to that point it has already been tested extensively.
The demands Nespresso has on the coffee are really high and the ending quality of the final product is a reflection of those quality demands.
To make sure the base of the coffee growing process is good, Nespresso has people on the grounds in the countries they purchase coffee from. The coffee is not bought on a market but they work together with the producing farmers. That way Nespresso has influence over the entire process from the beginning and by educating the farmers on the triple A criteria they make sure the success rate is as high as can be. That is not only good for Nespresso but also – largely – for the farmers who benefit by a higher production, better environment and a better price for their coffee. To give an example of the quality demands: out of all the coffee produced in the world, only 1-2% meets the Nespresso quality standard. If you want to know more about sustainability and how Nespresso handles it check out the information on their website which will give you much more information.
I was really impressed with their way of working, the care that is taken to ensure a premium product, the care that goes into their focus on sustainability and of course the end result. Later in the day we went to the L’Atelier Nespresso in Lyon where we got two masterclasses and also enjoyed a dinner prepared by three star Michelin chef’s Emanuel Renaut en David Toutain, with the focus on coffee, but more on that later
Disclaimer: I was in Avenches and lyon by invitation of Nespresso. All opinions are my own as always