A love story that has completely changed the way we drink coffee

Sometimes in life and in the history of business you get those “butterfly effect” moments where a huge amount of change seems to hinge on one small event. One of these events in the world of coffee has come from one intriguing story between a man and a wife.

Eric Favre, a trained rocket scientist

Eric Favre, a trained rocket scientist who ended up having a key role in the invention of the Nespresso machine and single-serve coffee, has attributed much to an interaction with his wife way back when.

It has been over four decades since the interaction in question. His Italian wife had told Favre, who was Swiss, that there was no good coffee in the country, and that they knew nothing about making coffee.

Favre would continually get playfully teased by his wife, especially as he was working for a huge coffee company.

Favre was actually a rocket engineer by trade, and Favre joined Nestle in the packaging department. It’s sort of crazy to think that if a rocket engineer hadn’t joined the packaging department we may not have one of the most popular methods of making coffee, the Nespresso machine.

Favre has spoken more about his time at the company and the devotion he had to coffee at the time in spite of not having much of a background in the area. Speaking of his wife’s teasing during a tour of his office in Switzerland (a location that even has a museum all about the Nespresso invention) he said:

“I wanted to prove to my new wife that I have the capacity to make the best espresso.”

With this as his mission, Favre went to Rome (of course) and would learn more about the art of brewing coffee. Eventually, he would create an interesting prototype that was supposedly more functional than it was attractive. The journey to creating what would become the Nespresso Machine was difficult and many would have given up. Not only was the prototype clunky, but it would take time for him to convince anyone at Nestle that this was required.

All of this happened at around the time Nescafe was becoming a huge household name, and changing the way people see instant coffee. Within the company (Nestle) it was assumed that this was the way the future was likely to be, but Favre saw things differently.

Favre kept going and stuck to his guns, convinced that the Nespresso machine would be a key player in the coffee industry. When the prototype eventually became a more workable idea and people within the company started to share the vision, Favre would be named as the director of this arm of the company.

While it was once just a vision, and a small part of the Nestle company, perhaps even Favre couldn’t have envisioned just how big it would have become.

Some have estimated the sales of Nespresso products to be worth multiple billions of dollars every single year, but Favre still predicted some of the changes that we were going to see in the company.

Nespresso machine

Favre even spoke in 2011 about the fact that Nestle would see huge competition from other brands, and this has definitely been the case. Pod coffee machines are available from many different manufacturers now. While this might be seen as a negative within the Nestle company, for consumers it isn’t a bad thing and it ensures even more choice.

In the 2011 interview with Global Coffee Review, Favre warned that there would be many new companies flooding the market in an attempt to steal some of the market share. Favre claims that the difference Nescafe can have is based on quality. He spent a long time working on creating the perfect coffee and studied the Italian market, including how the crema plays such a big role in the flavour.

Now, decades on from the original conception, these little devices can be seen all over the world, and the pods are sold in their billions. While this has led to some criticism from an environmental standpoint, Nespresso and many other companies are setting out to become much more eco-friendly and change the way they do business.

Coffee is a massive industry with so many different rabbit holes you can go down to explore new and exciting ways to prepare your coffee at home. There are a few central figures who have played such a huge part in the last 20-40 years as coffee, particularly in the west, has become so much more of a part of society. If Eric Favre had never married his Italian wife, or if he had not stuck to the idea he had and believed it could succeed, we may not even have a Nespresso Machine on the face of the earth today.

Nespresso machine

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