We caught up with Nespresso Australia and New Zealand coffee ambassador Mitch Monaghan over a couple of cappuccinos to talk about "positive cups", the future of coffee farming, and how he takes his coffee.
What were you doing before Nespresso?
I have worked in a really wide range of jobs, from zookeeper to barista. What I love about the world of coffee is that there is always more to learn and of course, more to drink and enjoy.
You've done a bit of travelling back and forth to Lausanne, where Nespresso was born. What's your favourite thing to do when you touch down?
I go straight outside to walk around Lake Geneva. The snow-capped mountains across the lake on the French border and the turquoise water are all picturesque reminders about how lucky I am to do what I do.
And how do you take your coffee when you're at home?
One of my favourite coffees would be a strong but smooth cappuccino, especially for weekend mornings. I love experimenting with different flavours, too - whether it's adding some spices or working with different flavours to create a twist on the Espresso Martini.
How important is sustainability in the coffee business?
Coffee is the second-largest raw export in the world, after oil. The importance of sustainable practices across all stages of operations is paramount. This means how the coffee is grown, how it is packaged, produced and transported, and, of course, how it is disposed of after consumption.
How does sustainability fit into the Nespresso story?
Nespresso began with a simple idea: enable anyone to create the perfect cup of coffee - just like a skilled barista. From a values point of view, it was important for us to do this in a sustainable way.
What are some of the ways you ensure responsible practice?
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 sustainability, quality and productivity of their coffee. The growers who are a part of the program are also paid a premium above market prices for their beans.
Does the company keep a close eye on its carbon footprint, too?
Machine use and coffee growing are bigger footprint contributors than packaging - which is why Nespresso has been designing greener machines and will continue to do so.
And what is the "positive cup" strategy all about?
This is a program that sets out the steps Nespresso will implement to achieve its sustainability goals by 2020. It incorporates goals in the areas of coffee sourcing and social welfare, use and disposal, aluminium sourcing and resilience to climate change. We have goals in place to assist farmers in achieving high certification standards - in water management, biodiversity and the fair treatment of workers, for example.
What has been the most rewarding experience you've had since taking the job almost a year ago?
In March, I was on my first visit to our production centre in Avenches, in the North West of Switzerland. It was quite emotional to finally visit the "Wonka factory" for coffee.
One of the projects we are currently working on is the expansion of the AAA Farmer Future Program, which initially will involve a first-of-its-kind retirement fund for farmers in Colombia. We are also working with farmers and communities in Sudan to revive the country's high-quality coffee production and create positive economic and social development.