Many things are in my mind after the WBC 2011 in Bogota, which was truly a great event. Feedback from a competitors view is one such thing, which I will write about shortly. For now I would like to address one thing, that caused a lot of discussion during the WBC online as well as in Bogota itself: having Nespresso (Nestlé) as a sponsor for the event.
From the speciality coffee perspective, I truly have no sympathies for Nestlé, since the coffee they produce is way apart of where speciality coffee sees itself. The WBC is an event of the speciality coffee industry. The SCAA and the SCAE have been created because they wanted to bring together people having a mission: making coffee better, showcasing how great coffee can be. Having Nespresso as a sponsor devalues the effort that is spent by competitiors for up to a year to get to the WBC, since quality assumptions on coffee couldn’t be more different. Nevertheless, previous sponsors – e.g. producers of syrups – were part of the game from the beginning and they can not be covered by the “speciality umbrella” as well. On the oposite side sponsors are vital to get an event like this running, so where is the border which – in my opinion – should not be crossed? Is it good or is it bad to have Nestlé as a sponsor for the WBC?
It is always easy to blame companies like Nestlé, since such huge companies must be worse, right? To be honest, I just didn’t know for sure, I only had this common sense about Nestlé being evil. As you should know by reading my articels, I always like to back-up the stuff I say. So I did some research on the internet for several days. What I came up with is a huge hisotry of violations done by Nestlé around the world. May it be the destruction of rain forest, controling water availability, creating dependencies on baby food, child labour and of course controling coffee prices.
You can find a lot of information if you follow the links listed below. Each page contains more links that forward you to a heap of further information.
Talking about coffee quality is not the issue since it might be clear that Nespresso is nowhere near where we are now and where we want to be in the future. The major discrepancy lies within the ethic values, that are very strong in the speciality coffee industry. In the speciality coffee industry we are working actively to pay a fair value to the farmers, create better living conditions, helping in education and – which is a huge signal – creating true relationships.
Nestlé is so far apart to anything we want to be associated with. This brings me to the only conclusion possible: having Nespresso as a sponsor for the WBC is a really bad thing! It would be nice, if more people would speak up and if we could avoid having sponsors like this in the future.