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Spilling the (coffee) beans

An inside look into the Nestlé-Starbucks partnership
Spilling the (coffee) beans

In early September of last year, only days after the announcement that Nestlé had inked a partnership with Starbucks, the Nestlé team was making its way to Seattle, on the West Coast, where Starbucks is headquartered.

It wasn't a courtesy call. They were meeting with their new colleagues from the other side of the alliance to develop a new product range, one that would combine the expertise of two of the world's most well-known coffee brands.

Just seven months into the partnership, Nestlé is bringing to market a range of 24 new products including roast and ground and whole bean coffee, as well as Starbucks capsules for Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto systems. The new product line-up will allow coffee enthusiasts to enjoy the Starbucks coffee they love in the comfort of their homes.

"We were clear from the beginning that we wanted these products launched in March 2019," said David Rennie, Head of the Coffee Strategic Business Unit at Nestlé. "The secret to meeting that ambitious timeline lay in having a small and focused team, which we expanded only when strictly necessary, as we progressed into the different stages of the project."

Getting the taste right

"We had about four weeks to develop the portfolio and finalize all 24 products," said David. "That involved getting the right people, in the right place, at the right time, to make that happen."

One of the most challenging tasks lay in developing the unique taste profile of Starbucks range of coffees in Dolce Gusto and Nespresso capsules. "We worked closely together to optimize the recipes to get the exact in-cup experience Starbucks is known for," said David. "There was a lot of fine-tuning involved."

We worked closely together to optimize the recipes to get the exact in-cup experience Starbucks is known for
David Rennie Deputy Executive Vice President, Head of Nestlé Coffee Brands

The quest for the perfect Starbucks cup of coffee in a capsule format took place in Nestlé Product Technology Centre, in Orbe, Switzerland. With a deadline looming, Nestlé and Starbucks R&D teams spared no efforts. Guided by their expertise in coffee, they experimented endlessly until they got it right – just so that consumers could enjoy their favorite Starbucks coffee at home, at the touch of a button.

"We then had to co-develop the packaging artwork for the entire range in multiple languages before we could work with the fourteen markets to coordinate their local launches,” said David. “There was no margin for error given the tight timeframe in which we were working."

"This is a strong demonstration of the partnership to be able to bring new products to market that our global consumers love, faster than expected," said Duncan Moir, President of Channel Development at Starbucks. "The unprecedented rate at which our teams collaborated to deliver Starbucks iconic roast profiles and high-quality 100% arabica coffees to consumers through Nestlé's unparalleled distribution channels is something we should all feel very proud of."

Three iconic coffee brands under one roof

The new product line-up is the first tangible output of the Nestlé-Starbucks deal, closed at the end of August 2018. Nestlé’s coffee portfolio now boasts three iconic brands: Nescafé, Nespresso and Starbucks. The deal saw Nestlé acquire perpetual rights to market Starbucks consumer packaged goods and foodservice coffee and tea products globally (outside of Starbucks cafes, and excluding ready-to-drink products).

The agreement has helped to strengthen Nestlé's leadership position in the coffee segment, at a time when coffee consumption is on the increase globally.

Nestlé now intends to take full advantage of its extended coffee portfolio – there is more brewing. "This roll-out is only the first in a long series to come," said David. "We will continue to bring the Starbucks experience to millions of consumers in their homes around the world."