Perfect coffee isn't something that can be left to chance.
Perfect coffee pleasure, is no accident: it must be deliberately created, consistently and without compromise, cup after cup, by living our principles.
Along the complex path from bean to cup there are quicker ways of doing things than we do, and there are certainly cheaper ways. But there is no better way.
Knowing a single faulty bean can taint a whole batch, we take control of quality down to the very last one - with a deliberate dedication to getting the details right at every step of the way.
Juan Diego, Nespresso AAA Manager in Costa Rica
We're often asked why we call our coffees Grands Crus?
At the closest agricultural concept to how we view our coffees, we borrowed from the world of wine. In the wine industry, the term Grand Cru can be given to wines of the highest quality classification.
At Nespresso our selection begins with the best raw materials we can find, because only the best beginning holds the promise of an incredible cup of coffee. We start at origin with fine specialty grade coffees that meet stringent physical criteria and specific taste profiles, necessary to create our distinctive Grands Crus.
Responsible sourcing tastes best
Our approach necessitates another level of selectivity which concerns the sustainability of the coffee tree and coffee world in general.
To address the issue of coffee's future, we created the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program in 2003 in conjunction with the non-profit, Rainforest Alliance. This approach enables Nespresso to safeguard the future supply of the highest quality coffee, while paying farmers a higher income and protecting the natural environment. But our commitment goes beyond this, it is about a long-term relationship and continued loyalty to the coffee farmers in the program.
Chris Wille, Chief Rainforest Alliance
Nespresso is committed to
The best quality coffee
The natural environment
A long-term relationship with our farmers
Harvesting quality from the best terroirs
The fruit of the Coffea Rubiaceae tree, coffee grows between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer.
As with wine, great coffee draws its characteristics from its terroir: the result of harmony between soil, weather conditions, variety, aspect and altitude. We call the tree's fruit a "cherry" for its luscious red colour when ripe and its cherry-like shape. As with any fruit, coffee tastes best when harvested perfectly ripe.
Coffee is a cherry like wine grapes
Cherries from the same tree will ripen at differing rates and therefore should be picked at different times.
In order to pick only correctly ripened fruit, the majority of coffees used for Nespresso Grands Crus are harvested by hand. Though costlier in time and money, this guarantees the best quality, since beans that are too green or overripe are eliminated.
From the French word "terre" (soil), terroir designates a defined region where the growing environments are of similar altitude, soil composition and climate (temperature, rainfall, sunshine, humidity etc).
Not all beans are created equal
The better the grading, the more consistent the beans... the more even the roast, and ultimately the more balanced the cup.
Safeguarding quality through all of the coffee stages from farm to cup requires us to carry out repeated and systematic physical and taste checks: prior to bagging the coffee at origin, prior to transporting by sea or air, and again upon arrival in Europe. Taste (or "cup") testing ensures only the finest, cleanest coffee is selected.
Just as a perfumer knows the harmonics of his ingredients, so our master blenders create aromatic compositions.
We develop our Grands Crus in a blend composition much like a form of magical alchemy. Nespresso panel cuppers are intensively trained, tested, certified and re-certified every 3 months for their ability to identify quality. Sensory evaluation looks beyond physical attributes, linking taste to variety, terroir and care in cultivation.
Back in Switzerland, we develop our Grands Crus in a blend composition much like a form of magical alchemy. We select specific coffee origins for their unique characteristics (aroma, flavour, body, etc), combining components in proportions designed to enhance their individual brilliance.
As a perfumer knows the harmonics of his ingredients, so our master blenders understand the transformation of fragrance and flavours. Having practiced these skills for over 25 years, Nespresso quality creation is master, not coincidence.
The subtle blending of varieties reveals a wealth of flavours, each contributing remarkable characteristics. The two main commercial coffee species grown, Arabica and Robusta each bring distinct characteristics to a blend. Coffees of both types must pass physical, sensory and sustainable standards tests of the highest order.
Where Arabica brings finesse, acidity, clarity and elegance to the cup, Robusta adds heft, body, texture and pure coffee aromatics. Nespresso uses between 90% to 95% Arabicas with some Robustas to either add spice to select Grands Crus, or create unique personalities in others.
Nespresso Quality specialist, Green Coffee
Terroir-specific roasting for terroir-specific aromas
Roasting and grinding are vital stages towards creating a Grand Cru as here we reveal the full flavour and aromatic potential of green coffee beans.
Correct roasting depends on finding the time, temperature and other parameters best suited to a blend, thereby allowing origin characteristics to be fully expressed.
Whilst poor roasting can ruin the finest coffee, an expert technique elicits the best of every ingredient, balancing origin-specific characteristics and allowing each coffee to show its unique personality. For this reason, Nespresso develops a specific roast profile for each blend.
Depending on the roast technique used, the same coffee can acquire vastly different cup results. By knowing the character of our beans, we roast each with the goal of optimising and maximising its flavour. Origin, type, shipment, batch… all these variables impact roasting. Our expert understanding ensures consistency cup after cup, year after year, irrespective of seasonal fluctuations.
Made-to-measure grinding for optimal extractions
Ultimately, grinding is what allows coffee's aromas to be released, making it a critical step in delivering the experience of a Grand Cru.
The grinding technique, therefore, optimises extraction and end cup quality. As every coffee type or blend extracts differently, our approach to grinding is not uniform, but varied, highly individualised, and adjusted for the best quality cup of each Grand Cru.
Capturing freshness: safeguarding aromas for your cup
Nespresso created the hermetically sealed aluminium capsule as the optimal way to lock in freshness.
Aluminium capsules were designed for their complete barrier capacity that protects around 900 volatile aromas of coffee. Sealing in this manner prevents oxidation and guarantees optimal cup freshness. From the completion of roasting onwards, all processing is under a controlled atomosphere so that no oxygen should touch coffee en route to encapsulation.
The material was also favoured because it is infinitely recyclable and thus not only maintains quality and flavour integrity, but is not a spent resource once used. Compared against the production of primary aluminium, the recycling of aluminium products consumes as little as 5% of the energy and emits only 5% of the greenhouse gases. As part of our vision, Nespresso has already put in place used capsule collection capacity for recycling above 80% at end 2013, reaching our target one year earlier than planned.
In the final quality step to the customer, extraction, Nespresso's comprehensive quality system ensures that finished capsules interact with machines in such a way as to extract all the flavours that have been so carefully sought, selected for, roasted, ground and packed... In other words, to serve as the ultimate expression of all that has gone heretofore. Our brewing systems operate at the right water temperature, quantity and pressure for each Grand Cru design, so they deliver our quality promise in the cup.
Freshness aside, aluminium is infinitely recyclable. Nespresso Research & Development aimed to ensure that the material chosen not only locks in the aromatics we've worked so hard to secure, but that it is ecologically sound. When compared with the production of primary aluminium, recycling of aluminium products consumes as little as 5% of the energy and emits only 5% of the greenhouse gases.