Nestle Nespresso To Indirectly Import Coffee From Cuba To USA

20 June 2016: New York, New York- Nestle Nespresso, the worldwide pioneer and reference in premium single-serve coffee, announced today it will bring back Cuban coffee to the United States for the first time in more than 50 years.

Recent regulatory changes in the United States have allowed Nespresso to move forward with its plans, which include making the new Cuban Nespresso Grand Cru, Cafecito de Cuba, available in the United States in the fall of 2016, initially as a limited edition. Over the long term, Nespresso and its partner TechnoServe, a nonprofit development organization, will explore how to work with smallholder coffee farmers in Cuba with the goal ultimately being to support farmers in their production of sustainable coffee and contribute to expanded economic opportunities for them in the long-term.

For more than two centuries, Cuba has produced some of the greatest Arabica coffee in the world. With fertile soil and ideal climate conditions, the country offers an excellent coffee growing environment. Nespresso is purchasing Arabica coffee this year that has been produced by Cuban farmers, and aims to continue purchasing it in the coming years.

“At Nespresso, we always aim to delight consumers through exclusive, unique coffee experiences,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, President Nespresso USA. “Nespresso is thrilled to be the first to bring this rare coffee to the U.S., allowing consumers to rediscover this distinct coffee profile. Over the long-term, we have a view to supporting the development of environmentally sustainable coffee farming practices for smallholder farmers which benefit the farmers themselves and their communities. Ultimately, we want consumers in the U.S. to experience this incredible coffee and to enjoy it now and for years to come.”

The U.S. Department of State in late April updated its list of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs that can be imported into the United States to include coffee. This change paved the way for Nespresso to offer Cuban coffee to the U.S. market.

Nespresso’s approach to sustainability is embedded in its business practices and focuses on initiatives that preserve the environment for future generations and create shared value for all stakeholders and society. Nespresso has extensive experience working closely with coffee farmers to improve productivity and create attractive income opportunities for them. Through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which was developed with the Rainforest Alliance, Nespresso works with farmers, providing support, training, financing and technical assistance to improve sustainability and productivity while maintaining quality.

Editor's NOTE: According to Nestle Nespresso, Cafecito de Cuba will be 100% Cuban Arabica coffee from the regions of Granma and Santiago de Cuba.

Editor's NOTE: According to the London, United Kingdom-based International Coffee Organization (ICO), in 2015 the Republic of Cuba harvested 100,000 60-kilogram bags of coffee, consumed 200,000 60-kilogram bags of coffee, and exported 8,696 60-kilogram bags of coffee.

Editor's NOTE: Nestle Nespresso is a subsidiary of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA (2015 revenues approximately US$94 billion).  The company has a representative office in the city of Havana.  Since the 1990's, Nestle S.A. has been involved with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to develop the confection industry; has investments in mineral water production and beverage production; and imports products for sale at retail stores.

Editor's NOTE: Nestle Nespresso previously created a Republic of Cuba-focused product; the following is a media release from 2 September 2014:

Nespresso pays tribute to Cuban coffee tradition with Limited Edition Cubanía; Inspired by the passion and intensity of Cuban coffee ritual

Inspired by the warmth of the Cuban way of life and its iconic coffee ritual, Nespresso coffee experts have stretched their mastery of coffee creation to produce Cubanía, the Fall 2014 Limited Edition Grand Cru.

The way of drinking coffee in Cuba – Cubano-style – is a leisurely tradition. It mixes a portion of strong, black coffee with cane sugar until it becomes a thick, creamy paste. Then it combines it with yet more coffee. This distinctive coffee ritual represents the sensual Latin style: a different pace of life with time to savour one another’s company.

Nespresso has captured this spirit in Cubanía, a bold blend of highly roasted Arabicas and Robustas with a dense texture and powerful bouquet without strong bitterness. Breaking the Nespresso record of intensity by going one step beyond the Kazaar Grand Cru, Cubanía reaches level 13.  

Mastery of origins and process for unsurpassed intensity

This achievement of unsurpassed intensity draws upon earlier Nespresso creations. It also builds on the mastery of an innovative technique: steaming coffee to change its chemical and physical structure.

A coffee’s intensity is based on the density of the beans and their roasting profile. Choosing which coffee beans can deliver such an intense experience takes Nespresso know-how. For intensity, a high-end Indian Robusta was slowly steamed to allow for greater extractability, while reducing bitterness and enhancing smoothness. Brazilian Robusta Conillon was added to ensure intensity. This was paired with a mild Colombian Arabica used already in 2012 for the Limited Edition Crealto, capable of taking a long roast while delivering smooth and pure coffee flavour. Nespresso coffee experts also selected a mild Arabica to complement the blend.
Enjoying coffee the Latin way

Nespresso seeks to continuously invite Club Members into new ways of understanding, appreciating and experiencing coffee. To enjoy Cubanía in the traditional Cubano style, Nespresso coffee experts recommend adding a 25 ml ristretto to a measure of cane sugar, stirring well until it becomes a creamy, light brown paste. Then, extract a second 25 ml ristretto on top of the mixture and stir. This intense and syrupy black coffee with its tantalizing, dense crema enables coffee aficionados to fully experience Cubanía with Latin flair.

Adding 25 ml of hot milk to a Café Cubano creates a velvety coffee and milk elixir reminiscent of the dessert dulce de leche, with sweet notes of cookie and caramel.  The wild, yet complex aromatics of Cubanía are revealed when it is taken black, as a 25 ml ristretto.

20 June 2016
Cuban coffee to be sold in the U.S.

By Alan Gomez

MIAMI — The next phase of Cuba's changing relationship with the United States will come in the form of coffee.

Switzerland-based Nespresso announced Monday that it will sell Cuban coffee in the U.S. starting this fall. The long-restricted coffee will first be sold as a limited edition, called Cafecito de Cuba, in stores, online and over the phone.

Guillaume Le Cunff, president of Nespresso USA, said it's good to be the first company to provide Cuban coffee to the U.S. market. He stressed that Nespresso is more interested in developing a long-term arrangement to ensure a steady supply of Cuban coffee for U.S. customers and improved living conditions for Cuba's farmers.

"We're not looking at this as a short-term achievement," Le Cunff said Sunday. "It's the starting point of a very long-term initiative. We're very optimistic that we can drive and build this project. Ultimately, we want consumers in the U.S. to experience this incredible coffee and to enjoy it now and for years to come."

Cuba's iconic products — from coffee to rum to the island's fabled cigars — have been off limits to U.S. consumers for more than 50 years because of the economic embargo maintained on the communist country. Opportunities opened after December 2014, when President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced that the Cold War foes would begin normalizing relations.

The Obama administration has since issued new regulations allowing for more trade and travel between the countries. That included an amended regulation published in April that removed coffee from the list of items barred from being imported from Cuba.  Nespresso officials immediately took notice.

The company has already partnered with TechnoServe, a Washington-based non-profit development organization, to assist coffee farmers in Colombia, South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. David Browning, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at TechnoServe, recently visited Cuba to meet with government officials and inspect the small farms where Cuba's coffee is grown.

IMAGE: Cuban workers pile up sacks of coffee at a small warehouse in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, on July 26, 2010.

Much of Cuba's agricultural land is managed by cooperatives of small, private farmers. They then sell their products to the Cuban government, which either distributes the goods on the island or exports them around the world. Nespresso will begin its Cuba experiment by buying coffee beans from European importers, roasting the beans, packaging the coffee in pods and selling them in the United States.

Browning said both companies examined the new regulations and saw the opening they needed.  "All that was necessary was for the lawyers to make sure they fully understood the U.S. government's intent," he said. "Everything was very clear."

The next phase for Nespresso and TechnoServe will be to help Cuba's private farmers improve their production processes, from helping them secure new agricultural equipment to fine-tuning their planting and harvesting processes. Browning said such guidance has helped farmers in other countries improve their output, which led to more income for the farmers and improved standards of living.  "We're really eager to be in listening mode and start to understand the state of industry and how we can be most helpful," he said.

Until then, the two men were eager for U.S. customers to experience the foreign flavor. Browning described Cuba's Arabica coffee beans, grown in the fertile lands in eastern Cuba, as having notes of cedar with a light, caramel finish. And Le Cunff said the exotic, forbidden aspect of the coffee is a lure itself.

"Our customers expect us to bring new coffee experiences, and they expect to be surprised," he said. "We know that with our U.S. customers, there is a high level of curiosity and excitement to have this coffee. So we expect a high level of response."