The debate stems from a multi-video series produced by the Norwegian news agency Aftenposten in which Wendelboe gives home brewers advice, insight and demonstrations on all things related to quality coffee brewing.
In the series, Wendelboe routinely urges consumers to seek out high-quality whole bean coffees from craft-driven roasters that value interesting and unique flavors that can come from individual farms and lots. In the process, he calls out some well-known problems involved in the mass production of pre-ground capsule coffees, including freshness, flavor distinction and the widespread use of coffee with known defects.
In a published reply, Geir Kronbæck of Nespresso Norway suggests Wendelboe’s assertions in the series reflect his own financial interests, and that Nespresso’s sourcing, roasting and distribution practices allow for coffee quality that is on par with Wendelboe’s, as well as that of many of the world’s other renowned micro roasteries. Kronbæck also asserts that the Nespresso brewing system can produce similar results to manual brewing in any number of the world’s greatest coffee shops.
Writes Kronbæck (loosely translated from its original Norwegian:
Wendelboe obtains much good coffee, and he delivers unique taste experiences, but no matter how you prefer coffee to taste, no one can argue that Nespresso portioned coffee does not have the same quality as that found in various coffee shops around the world.
The quality of coffee is the pillar of Nespresso. Not only do we select the best coffee beans in the world, we continue the same meticulous quest for quality in all aspects. We wrap it in portions to preserve the quality, and to assert that the choice of packaging categorically lowers the quality of coffee is misleading to the consumer.
To his credit, Wendelboe has taken a diplomatic approach, lauding Nespresso for maintaining some quality control programs. In a reply published today, he responds to Kronbæck’s criticisms on a point-by-point basis, referring to Nespresso and other coffee companies as colleagues working together to help lead consumers to better experiences with their home coffee. He writes (translated from Norwegian):
I still maintain that the quality of the coffee in the capsules are not of the same quality as the coffees you can buy at the best coffee shops around the world. (This does not mean that all the coffee you can buy in the coffee business is good.)
By quality I mean not only the green unroasted coffee, but also the way it is roasted, how fresh it is and ultimately its taste. The flavor is most important, and it is influenced by many factors.