Colombia – A journey with Nespresso to the origin…

se signature style - the blog by Steven Epprecht

…of sustainable quality coffee. We drink a cup (or more) coffee every day as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Well, it is nowadays but that was not always the case. In the past, coffee was considered as a luxury good, very expensive and therefore only affordable for the upper class. And during the Colombia trip with Nespresso, I realized why. 

Did you know what it means to grow coffee? Are you aware of the complex and extensive process from the very beginning with seeding a coffee plant seed until we hold our cup of coffee in our hands, every morning, every day, all year around? 

To be honest, I wasn’t totally aware of that. I mean, of course I knew that the coffee is grown in southern countries with a warmer and sunnier climate and that it is connected with hard work from seeding, picking and sun drying until it gets shipped to Switzerland or somewhere else in the world. However, I was surprised and impressed by the complex process and the hard work behind it. And most of it is done by hand, of course. 

So I was more than happy that I had the chance to travel to Colombia with Nespresso to discover what growing sustainable quality coffee actually means and to see how Nespresso closely works hand-in-hand and on a long-term basis with their coffee farmers to enhance their business and welfare. 

To ensure not only the best quality in coffee, but also a fully sustainable process and to take on social responsibility for their coffee farmers and their communities where the coffee is grown, Nespresso launched in 2003 together with the Rainforest Alliance the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. The aim of this program is to build long-term and direct relationships with their farmers from the best coffee growing areas in the world and focusing not only on the quality of coffee but also on sustainability such as considering social, environmental and ecological aspects. The Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program shares many principles and objectives (39 criterias in total) in terms of quality, sustainability and productivity. 

Coffee farmers, especially small family businesses are facing many and changing risks when it comes to coffee growing, susch as unpredictable weather conditions or increasing operational costs. Also poverty is widespread among the people working in the coffee industry or living in those areas. Thanks to the close and long-term relationships with Nespresso within their AAA program and the support of their agronomists and specialists, the coffee farmers benefit from their knowledge and together they can enhance the quality of the coffee but also the quality of the farmers businesses and lives. 

A direct relationship with regular inspections at the farms and customized action plans enables the farmers to meet the criterias of the program and to be part of it. And as a producer of sustainable quality coffee, Nespresso pays their farmers a premium price which is 30-40% above the average market price. 

But it’s not only about ensuring the best coffee quality with support of agronomists in optimizing for example the planting, picking, pulping or drying process. The agronomists also pass on the knowledge in how to improve the infrastructure, the organization of the farm and how to increase their productivity with the goal to make it clear to farmers that growing coffee is a business and should be considered as such.

Moreover, the program ensures that the coffee is grown and naturally sourced with a fully sustainable approach in terms of the environment but also in terms of the welfare of the farmers and their families through several insurances such as against changing weather conditions or setting up a pension plans to make provisions for their retirements.

So I was more than happy to experience on my own, what it means to grow sustainable quality coffee and how Nespresso closely works together with their farmers. And I was impressed and touched the most about the passion and dedication the coffee farmers put into their hard work. Day by day, hour by hour, by sunshine or by rain, they invest all their power to grow coffee. And I got so emotional when looking into their happy and proud faces while they were telling their stories about growing coffee and how Nespresso changed their lives towards a better one thanks to the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program.

And by now, Nespresso sources 94% of their coffee from AAA certified coffee farms and have established direct relationships with over 100'000 farmers participating in the program. And the goali is to source towards 100% of their coffee sustainably from their AAA Program by 2020. 

While I am sitting here in Switzerland, writing this blog post for you and thinking back of the wonderful experience and touching encounters I made, one thing is for sure: I will drink my daily cup of Nespresso coffee more consciously and it will always remind me of that amazing adventure.  

Nespresso, what else?

Take care & write you soon…



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