Sustainability at Nespresso

Nespresso Malaysia’s Geoffrey Dalziel on the Swiss coffee company’s commitment to end-to-end sustainability and quality.

Nespresso highlights the life of three Colombian farmers — Humberto (pictured), Esteban and Luis. (Photo: Nespresso)

Nespresso’s latest limited edition coffees are from Africa and represent unique and individual flavour profiles — Arabica Ethiopia Harrar boasts scents of ripe fruit and fresh flowers, while Robusta Uganda is surprisingly sweet and rich with intense cacao notes. (You can purchase both Grands Crus here now).

They are delicious, but I will admit my enjoyment of them — and all the other Nespresso Grands Crus — is heightened because I am conscious that the company works with more than 70,000 farmers in 12 countries through its AAA Sustainable Quality Program to embed sustainability practices on farms and in the surrounding landscapes. This is taste-good and feel-good coffee, and I love it all the more for these reasons.

Nespresso’s proprietary sustainability and quality programme came under the spotlight recently through an advertising campaign that highlights the life of three Colombian farmers — Humberto, Esteban and Luis — whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to the Swiss-based company’s choices.

“The Choices We Make campaign is Nespresso’s brand campaign that focuses on the amazing stories of the coffee farmers in Colombia. The aim of the campaign is to tell the authentic, honest tale of a partnership that has led to more than a unique cup of coffee,” says Geoffrey Dalziel, the business development manager for Nespresso Malaysia. “Our vision is to ensure every cup of Nespresso coffee creates greater value for society and the environment. The campaign aims to show just how much a specific choice to create the best quality and sustainably sourced coffee can have amazing consequences for the farmers who grow and nurture it.”

While working with farmers in Colombia, Nespresso noticed processing discrepancies on each farm that made it hard to guarantee consistent coffee quality. To address the issue, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program worked with a local cooperative in the Andean town of Jardin to build a community mill, where farmers bring their coffee cherries and have them transformed into coffee beans in the most consistent way.

Not only did the community mill help preserve the inherently high quality of the coffee, it also transformed the lives of the farmers for the better — they were now able to generate more revenue thanks to their higher quality coffee as well as saving precious time since the processing was centralised and not happening on individual farms. Currently, farmers save up to five hours a day during harvest time, which is time and energy they are able to invest in their families, communities and personal passions.

Dalziel: "Our vision is to ensure every cup of Nespresso coffee creates greater value for society and the environment."

“Our AAA programme is about securing the right quality of coffee and in doing so, assuring a better quality of life for the farmers. Ensuring supply is key, and by working together with all 70,000 of them, we get to do that. The farmers aren’t obliged to sell coffee to Nespresso, but we do what we can to help them maintain the quality, increase the yield and reduce the processing time. The programme isn’t just about implementation and letting it run on its own, but to continue working on the cooperation to ensure a sustained yield,” Dalziel says, as he makes my second cup of coffee for the day — Ristretto combines the best South American Arabicas, from countries such as Colombia and Brazil, with great East African Arabicas, famous for their citrus aromas, with a touch of Robusta for added zing.

The Choices We Make campaign reveals that Humberto has been able to support his daughter’s passion for butterflies all the way to university, where she is currently studying biology.  Esteban, a father of two,  now has more time to spend with his sons as well as volunteering as a fireman in his community, while Luis can now pass on his passion for fishing to his son Mathias, spending much more time outside together. While these heart-warming tales are unique to the three farmers mentioned in the campaign, they also reflect the life stories of coffee farmers in the many regions that Nespresso gets its raw materials from.

Although the advertising campaign is recent, Nespresso’s AAA programme was started, together with the Rainforest Alliance, in 2003, and combines quality with environmental conservation, social equity and economic viability. More than 300 agronomists help farmers develop customised plans to match these criteria. For their high-quality coffees, Nespresso pays the AAA farmers on average 30% to 40% above the regular market price. Currently, 82% of Nespresso’s coffee is AAA certified, and the goal is to hit 100% by 2020.

The Choices We Make campaign reveals that Humberto has been able to support his daughter’s passion for butterflies all the way to university

“The impetus at the beginning was that we wanted to create our own platform — the Fairtrade Foundation is more about the commercial side of things, for example, although we work with them too. But our own platform was created specifically by and for Nespresso, together with the Rainforest Alliance. So this new campaign communicates this part of our business more actively to our club members, the work that goes into each cup of coffee and, of course, that the farmers are benefiting from each cup too,” Dalziel says.

Nespresso positions itself as a premium product, and with that label comes great responsibility — it is not just about ensuring that the coffee itself is delicious but the processes utilised should also meet a higher-than-usual standard. “Premium is not just about a pretty advertisement,” Dalziel observes. “It means that we are looking at the entire value chain, from the quality of the coffee and the welfare of the farmers to our manufacturing in Switzerland, as well as the recycling of the pods, which is now possible in Malaysia. Our customers can and should be demanding, and we are happy to see to these demands.”

It is time for coffee No 3 for me and, this time, it’s the ultra-strong Dharkan — hints of bitter cocoa and toasted cereals result in a silky, velvety texture and a sophisticated flavour profile that comes from a combination of Arabicas from Latin America and Asia. Well chosen, I thought, as the coffee in my cup is the result of the painstaking efforts of farmers who live across the planet from each other, and yet, whose joint commitment has provided a sublime experience for a customer they will never meet.


This article first appeared on Feb 5, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.


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