On average, it takes one-and-a-half years from idea to final product, because we need to find the right capsule, the right colour, and we need to develop a story around it,” says Karsten Ranitzsch, head of coffee at Nestlé Nespresso SA, while in Sydney recently to launch Special Reserve Maragogype.
Supervising the entire Nespresso coffee journey from tree to cup, Ranitzsch and his team are dedicated to developing new Grand Cru and limited-edition coffees, scouring coffee farms across the globe in search of inspiration.
“It also lets us honour the farmers in different ways when we release a limited edition that has been launched thanks to their special efforts.”
“With Maragogype, we have proudly outdone ourselves again. Thanks to our longstanding relationships with coffee smallholders, we could source the best Maragogype beans from four distinct origins. We have carefully blended and roasted them to highlight the specificities of their terroir. Due to the scarcity of these precious beans, we can only produce a very limited amount, but it is our privilege to offer this unique sensory experience to Connoisseur Club members who enjoy trying new and rare varieties.”
A natural variety of Arabica Typica, Maragogype is named after a region in Brazil where the plant was first discovered in the late 19th century. The unusually big coffee plant is home to the largest known coffee beans in the world (hence its nickname, the “elephant bean”).
Boasting a much smaller yield, Maragogype is naturally a less profitable crop for farmers. But its delicacy and complex taste sets it apart from bean varieties grown on the same terrain.
Hunting down the four growing regions of the Maragogype bean that met Nespresso’s stringent quality standards led them to terroirs in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Colombia. A complex blending process ensued, followed by careful roasting to ensure the oversized bean’s delicate flavour profile was preserved. The result, according to Ranitzsch, is an “extremely balanced, subtle coffee with sweet notes that are very pleasant and round”.
Special Reserve Maragogype is available, for a limited time only, at all Nespresso boutiques or online.
Describing the crop to cup process, Ranitzsch adds that it’s a temperamental procedure defined by trial and error.
“Through the roasting process, you are developing aromas but at the same time you start destroying aromas,” he says. “First, you have the more volatile aromas; the longer you roast, the more you lose those and you gain tobacco and coconut notes instead, while losing complexity. We do a lot of research, trying to find the best way to get the best value out of the coffee.”
No two days are the same for Ranitzsch. “I often host tastings. We do green coffee tastings so we can see new coffees that we can use in development in the future.
“We also have discussions about the kind of products and concepts we want to have, because there’s always an interest in the story behind the coffee, which, for us, is something we very much appreciate; we know where the coffee is coming from because we work directly with the farmers.”
Under Ranitzsch’s guidance, Nespresso is hoping to roll out several sustainability projects before 2020. The Positive Cup is based on an ambitious investment of 500 million Swiss francs over the next six years in a bid to ramp up the company’s sustainability focus. From aluminum sourcing, use and disposal to resilience and climate change, the programme will encourage continued work with Nespresso’s partners, including the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. Among the feats Nespresso wish to achieve, the company hopes to become 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2020.
“We’re not just buying shares somewhere, we’re getting actively involved in the process,” says Ranitzsch.