FACT catches up with Nespresso’s regional coffee ambassador to find out what makes the perfect cup of coffee.
Have you always had a keen interest in coffee?
Yes and no. Coffee has always been around me, both in my Swiss and Moroccan families. Surprisingly, I could witness in these two cultures a lot of similarities when tasting coffee. Either black and no sugar or with milk and a lot of sugar!
My oldest and dearest memory of it is accompanying my mother to the grocery store. There, she would always stop after shopping to grind all the freshly roasted coffee beans she had just bought. The smell coming out of this imposing grinding device was enchanting. Then a bit later, my parents would let me have a small sip of coffee and milk during big family lunches. Coffee has a special place in my heart and is always related to happy family memories. For the past 15 years, I’ve developed a lot of unforgettable memories with the Nespresso family.
How did this passion for coffee come about?
I remember it well, it was the February 2007, on my first day at Nespresso. I was accompanied by a mentor who would make sure I understood what Nespresso represented as a coffee brand. I remember joining a two-week class, led by the second mentor of my career. From there, I couldn’t stop asking questions when meeting someone from the industry. Through my coffee education, I started to discover a beautiful world of senses. This continues today with the brand new Nespresso Carafe from the Vertuo system. I am the happiest host when serving a great cup of quality coffee to my guests at home.
In your opinion, what constitutes the perfect cup of coffee?
Fifteen years ago, I would have answered, “black, short and strong!” Yet, when you start exploring what makes a good cup of coffee, it is primordial for me that it be sourced sustainably. The inherent quality of the coffee has to be preserved and developed. For this, you need to support all the stakeholders involved in the production process. The perfect cup of coffee at Nespresso is not the result of chance. Coffee is the second-largest raw export in the world, after oil. Therefore, the importance of sustainable practices across all stages of operations is paramount. This includes how the coffee is grown, packaged, produced and transported, and, of course, how it is disposed of after consumption.
When it comes to the final taste profile of the coffee, it will always depends on my mood and the time of the day: a coffee developing flowery and fruity notes in the morning, cereal mid-morning and a strong woody character for after lunch. You get all these beautiful and different, complex flavours in the 30+ blends in the Vertuo.
There are so many rules to create the perfect cup of coffee. So many parameters to keep in mind, the roasting profile, the grinding level, the water temperature, the brewing time, and so on. At Nespresso, we are proud to invite you to have access to qualitative coffees, considered premium in the industry at the touch of a button. The selection process is the tricky part now.
Many people are perturbed by coffee. What advice would you give to novices looking to find the right coffee for their palate?
I can understand people are paralysed by all the different choices of taste, texture, origins and flavours. There are some factors to keep in mind when selecting the right coffee for your palate. It always starts by knowing your preferences. Are you looking for a coffee to pair with milk? Try the Barista Creations. Some of these blends have been tailored made to be tasted white (with milk). Do you prefer to indulge yourself with a single African origin developing floral notes? Do not hesitate to taste a Master Origin Ethiopia. Is your palate guiding you towards a stronger experience with a lot of body and an evident bitterness? Il Caffè is made for you and will transport you to a terrace in Italy.
Always look at your coffee, smell it, try to guess its different apparent notes, then taste it. It never stops at the first sip. Let your palate discover the notes and flavours behind the first taste sensation, be it bitterness, sweetness or acidity. I like to taste two coffees from opposite sensory profiles at the same time. This helps me understand and appreciate furthermore their complexities and flavours every single time.
How does Nespresso go about selecting their coffee blends, beans and farmers?
In 2003, we launched a partnership with a leading environmental NGO, the Rainforest Alliance. We provide growers with support, training, financing, and technical assistance to improve their coffee’s sustainability, quality, and productivity. The growers who are a part of the program are also paid a premium above the market prices for their beans.
Your job is highly specialised. What does it take to become a coffee specialist?
The ability to communicate your passion, a multi-tasking mindset and the capabilities to work closely with internal and external partners are the basics to start a career as Coffee Ambassador. I have the chance to meet and work with so many engaging professionals from different sectors – baristas, chefs, maître d’s, F&B managers – and to learn daily. Honestly, it is a passion that became a job, and I am having a lot of fun doing it.
The UAE has seen a coffee subculture emerging in recent years. Why do you think this is?
For many years, coffee has been considered a simple beverage. Take any coffee, add water to it and there it is. However, our generation has a better focus on the quality of what they consume. The past decade has seen an immense emergence of interest in coffee which makes it a vibrant market. It is one of the region’s most developed markets, and Dubai is a focal point when it comes to innovation.
That is also why we were incredibly proud to announce the launch of our most innovative brewing system with Nespresso Vertuo. It offers a full range of brewing styles and sizes inspired by your local coffee shop. Exciting future-focused coffee styles sit alongside our established coffee menu with coffees available across many sizes to meet your every brewing desire, topped with our signature rich crema. So whether you’re craving a morning espresso, curling up with an afternoon mug, or unwinding with a Carafe at your weekend brunch, there’s a coffee for any moment.
When it comes to making coffee at home, how is the best way to emulate the cafe experience
Consistency is key. Creating the perfect cup of coffee requires skills, training, the right tools and time. So many parameters have to be respected to reproduce the same quality cup. One of the most significant aspects we forget often is the importance of the freshness of the coffee. And this is linked to sustainability. I have to mention the sustainability aspect: 44% of the energy spent on the entire Value Chain derives from the cup preparation at home. When using a Nespresso Coffee Machine, you enable “precision consumption”, which means that only the precise amount of coffee and hot water is needed for each cup. With other brewing methods, more water is used and heated than is required and a greater quantity of coffee is used. The Life Cycle Assessment highlight this and demonstrates that a Nespresso coffee has an equivalent carbon footprint to filter or moka – and a lower carbon footprint than a bean-to-cup machine. A Nespresso Coffee Machine allows you to brew a cup of coffee for which all the parameters have been mastered and controlled.
What are your go-to gadgets for making a coffee at home? What are the essentials that should be found in every kitchen?
The shorter version of my answer to this question is: Nespresso Vertuo. Lately, I have become a Carafe lover. I often host dinners and being able to serve 12 espressos out of one single capsule has changed the way I interact with my guests. Before, I had to extract one capsule at a time and spend time away from my guests. Now, I can select an intense or mild Carafe, press the button, and have enough coffee to delight my guests in less than four minutes. What is remarkable is that this brewing technology allows me to satisfy all my coffee needs, be it an espresso for after lunch, a delicious mid-morning Reverso or even a bold mug for my breakfast through my favourite coffee origins.