Ecology-minded Nestle believes its capsule-fed coffee maker is fuelling a global trend
THE SWISS are as clever at making coffee as they are at building precision timepieces, as Thai connoisseurs have been discovering in the past year since the arrival of Nespresso.
The encapsulated coffee has been on the market elsewhere for decades. “We waited a bit before coming to Thailand because we wanted the market here to be ready,” explains Jean-Marc Duvoisin, chief executive at Switzerland-based Nestle Nespresso SA.
The boss was last week making his first visit to the Bangkok boutique at Siam Paragon as part of a regional tour.
“It started with an engineer’s idea for developing the perfect coffee in the perfect portion, using a machine that applied just the right amount of pressure to a capsule of coffee to release the aroma. When ground coffee comes into contact with the air, it oxidises quite quickly, so you have to protect it against that. That’s what the capsules do.
“It’s been an enormous success because people are now able to make the perfect cup of coffee at home,” Duvoisin said. “We introduced different-coloured capsules containing various flavours because people like having options and we have a wide range of aromas too.”
Nestle Nespresso chief executive JeanMarc Duvoisin is pleased with the way Thais have taken to the product./ The Nation
The Nespresso Grand Cru capsule is made of aluminium because it’s the best material to protect and preserve the coffee against oxygen, light and humidity and ably accommodates the high pressure applied by the machine to extract the coffee. The aluminium is also recyclable, being made from bauxite, a natural element.
Nestle is keen on recycling and since 1991 has been encouraging its customers in Switzerland to participate in its recycling initiative. It’s since then set up capsule-collection systems in 36 countries.
In Thailand, used capsules are collected for the Wongpanit Recycling Centre, a certified environmental service. The process involves separating the aluminium from remnant coffee grounds, which can also be reused as fertiliser. The aluminium is re-melted, which requires little energy and doesn’t reduce the weight or quality, so the metal can be reused indefinitely.
The aluminium from which Grand Cru capsules are made can be recycled almost endlessly.
By the end of 2015, Nespresso had the capacity to recycle 86 per cent of all capsules sold and aims to make that 100 per cent by 2020.
“It’s a very important for us to make sure that people recycle,” says Duvoisin. “Aluminium is the best material for us, but it has to be recycled. So we’ve launched the recycling programme in Thailand too, and now people can bring the specially designed recycling bag full of used capsules to our boutique.”
Since 2005 Nespresso has also used a process called life cycle assessment (LCA) to measure its product’s environmental impact. Most energy is spent in coffee production and in the form of the electricity used by the machine, but the capsules and the washing of the cups in the machine have a negligible impact.
In contrast, the adherence to strictly measured portions serves to reduce waste. In the final analysis, Nestle claims a Nespresso coffee can do the environment less harm than traditional varieties.
The Nespresso boutique sells, among many other items, a glass specially designed to bring out the coffee’s aroma.
Duvoisin is also proud that Nespresso has generated a global trend.
“It’s what we call the ‘third way coffee shop’ – people developing or being exposed to Nespresso and becoming more demanding and expert about their preferences.
“A few years ago they might have only known about Arabica or Robusta coffee, but now people know there’s a whole universe of coffee, a bit like wine. There are so many different aromas alone! So as they learn more, they’re always pushing further, wanting to be able to access fresh aromas and flavours. People want to know where the coffee comes from, which farms and types of trees, how it’s blended.
“The trend is always towards better understanding of the coffee world,” Duvoisin said. “Our coffee participates in that. Nespresso allows you to have these new experiences at home. And Thai people drink a lot of coffee these days and are starting to understand the world of coffee. That’s very important for us.”