AAA Sustainable Quality ProgramThis post is part of my on-going partnership with Nespresso.
If you know me, you know how much I love coffee. Not just for the taste or for the caffeine but also because it is how my heartmate and I start every morning together. We sit in bed and watch the morning news shows while drinking our Nespresso coffee and talking about the day ahead. Regular readers will likely know that we have been drinking Nespresso for many years and you may even remember my posts about it – like this this series of posts which covered our beach house kitchen renovation, and why coffee was an important part of its design. Over the years, I have read snippets of information here and there regarding Nespresso’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into all areas of their business. However, and to be frank, I didn’t really understand much about it or where our morning coffee came from.jardin colombiaAs seasoned Nespresso drinkers, the brand kindly invited my heartmate and I to travel to Colombia to visit coffee farms that are part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. The program was developed more than 15 years ago with the Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit, to create a sustainable supply of the highest quality coffee, while improving the lives of coffee farmers and their communities. Of course, we jumped at the chance as we were keen to understand more about the providence of a product that’s such an integral part of our day-to-day lives. We started our trip by flying to Medellin in Colombia, and from there we travelled by helicopter (check out the highlight on my Instagram story to see the breathtaking views!) to the small town of Jardín. This region of Colombia is known for coffee farming – literally everywhere you look there are coffee farms on the mountain sides.jardin colombiaPlus, the town of Jardín couldn’t have been more #MakeYouSmileStyle if it tried! It was so colorful! As you can see from the pictures above, Jardín was full of color and pattern inspiration. Not to mention the delicious coffee that was waiting to be enjoyed at charming little cafes, where everyone was so friendly and welcoming to us.AAA Sustainable Quality ProgramThere were many special moments during the five days we spent in beautiful Colombia. We spent the third day with one of Nespresso’s coffee farmers, Don Ruben, (above in the green stripy shirt) who kindly welcomed us all into his home & onto his coffee farm. He generously spent the day showing us how the farm worked and how coffee is made –from planting the coffee trees to how the beans are harvested, and then eventually sold to quality coffee companies like Nespresso. The passion and commitment he had for growing coffee on his farm was nothing short of inspiring. As I listened to Don Ruben speak, it struck both my heartmate and I how little we actually knew about coffee, which is crazy when it’s something we drink every day and choose to spend our money on. It was surreal experience to be standing there in front of one of the farmers who has been growing beans for the Nespresso coffee I’ve been drinking for years.

So inspiring, in fact, that I want to use this post to share five of the most interesting things I learned about coffee while in Colombia.AAA Sustainable Quality Program1. Coffee farming is very hard work
Don Ruben’s farm, which was about a 30 minute drive outside Jardín on the side of the most beautiful mountain, was just behind his house and about two hectares in size. During our day on his farm we learned that Nespresso works with farmers around the world through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. Through the program, Nespresso and its partners provide support, training, financing and technical assistance to improve sustainability and productivity while maintaining the highest levels of quality.

Don Ruben started the day by brewing us some of the coffee grown on his farm, then we sat on his deck where he talked us through the “cherry to cup” process of growing coffee. He explained it much better than I ever could, but what stood out to me was that all the coffee cherries (the fruit the coffee bean is grown in) are hand-picked. This is to ensure they are taken from the coffee trees at the exact right time of ripeness; the cherry should be red without any green skin.

After learning about the life cycle of coffee I tried my hand at planting a three-month old coffee tree that Don Ruben had been nurturing to ensure it was healthy and ready to be planted on the farm. The first three months are crucial because he has to make sure that the coffee trees don’t get diseases and die while they are weak saplings.

After planting my coffee tree (success!), I spent the afternoon higher up the mountainside hunting for and then picking ripe cherries. I can’t tell you how hard it was! You are literally on a side of very, very steep mountain, surrounded by coffee plants that block your view and path, so you fall over all the time in the mud, not to mention the humidity which is insane! Major props to the farmers who are experts at harvesting the cherries– they put amateurs like me to shame! These two stages are just the first few steps in the long process to extract and dry the coffee beans so they are ready for the farmer to sell. Don Ruben told me how he liked the AAA Program not only for the training and investment but also because it provides the expertise of local agronomists, who can answer questions about a farm’s crop or soil.AAA Sustainable Quality Program2. Poor quality coffee takes like poop – trust me, I tried it!
Before we visited some of Nespresso’s coffee farms, we attended a ‘cupping’ session where we learning about coffee and tasting coffee. It was there that I learned that poor quality coffee tastes bad, like, really, really bad – it smells and tastes like poop! I came away from the cupping session feeling quite proud because I was the winner in our group contest to see who could correctly identify the most number of coffee flavors. Yay!

The core of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program is to make the highest quality coffee in a way that is sustainable to both the environment and the farmers. That way consumers can keep drinking high quality coffee for a long time, and farmers’ lives are impacted for the better. At Don Ruben’s farm, which is part of the AAA Program, had a clean and tidy coffee drying area (see image below), which is key in maintaining the quality and protecting the taste of his coffee. There are scheduled check-ins with each farmer as part of the AAA Program, to make sure they are keeping within the strict guidelines of the program, which is something farmers actively wish to be a part of. This is because being part of the AAA program is a win-win for both the farmer and the consumer: the farmer gets paid a premium for their coffee, and the consumer enjoys better tasting coffee.AAA Sustainable Quality Program3. Coffee tasting is a real life job
We spent a lot of time in Colombia with an organization called FarmWays who helped organize all our trips out to the farms Nespresso buys from. They were amazing and knew everything about Colombian coffee. We got to spend time talking to coffee tasters who work in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program to taste coffee. Often they are tasting 200-400 cups a day (!) to ensure the quality of the coffee is up to standard. I was inspired to learn that if a farmer had a quality problem, rather than just turn the farmer away, Nespresso and its nonprofit partners work with the farmer to find a solution. They physically go out to the farmer on their farm and will talk to them about the changes that are needed, as well as help them to ensure they continue on a path to making quality coffee. Both my heartmate and I were moved and impressed by Nespresso’s commitment to supporting farmers and their communities for years to come.AAA Sustainable Quality Program4. Our coffee choices make a difference far beyond the cup
To be honest, in my ignorance I had never really thought much about the coffee I was drinking beyond whether I enjoyed the taste of it. However, after coming back from our trip to Colombia I really appreciate how choosing sustainably-sourced coffee makes a real difference. The Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program isn’t just about ensuring great tasting coffee by helping farmers to improve their farming practices, it also works with nonprofit partners to improve the welfare of farmers and their communities. It does this in a number of ways: providing free assistance from local agronomists, implementing pension plans for farmers in the program, investing in local infrastructure and communities, paying premium prices to farmers who produce high quality coffee and much more. Literally, by choosing a Nespresso coffee, you not only know that it will taste great but also that you are supporting local farmers’ lives and the communities they live in.AAA Sustainable Quality Program5. Farmers are at the heart of Nespresso coffee
What has stuck with both of us since coming back from Colombia is the absolute passion and commitment the coffee farmers have for their work. They truly take pride in what they do. I feel so grateful to have had the experience to meet a handful of these inspiring farmers, and to have visited the very farms where some of the coffee my heartmate and I drink comes from. One of our favorite Nespresso coffees is Rosabaya, from the brand’s Pure Origin line. I now know that Rosabaya is sourced entirely from small Colombian coffee farms, all of which are in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. Now, every morning when we enjoy our coffee together, my heartmate and I love know not only that we are drinking a very high quality coffee (Nespresso knows and visits every farmer they source from) but also that the farmers are getting paid a premium price for the coffee. I actually saw the board at the local co-op that showed the premium price the farmer gets paid for selling to Nespresso vs. other brands. Beyond this though, I know that thanks to the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, the farmers and their communities get much wider support so that they continue to grow amazing coffee for generations to come. And in our hearts and minds, that’s worth drinking a cup to.AAA Sustainable Quality Program// Photography by Will Taylor & Antonio DeLucci


Will Taylor

Will lives in NYC and is an interior design author and content creator. He's been blogging about his love of design, style and travel since 2009. His #MakeYouSmileStyle approach to decorating and dressing has inspired over one million Instagram uploads to the hashtag from followers across the world.


    • @Sarah – Thank you for reading! And, yes, it was so eye opening and inspiring to take such a deep dive into the story behind a product I use, and indeed consume, everyday.

  1. Michael Reed Reply

    Love coffee too and love this post! Thanks for the awesome info!

  2. As a fellow coffee lover I was fascinated by this post. Thank you for sharing Will. Keep up the great work.

  3. Victor Henao Reply

    So happy you had a good experience in Colombia. It’s where my soul came from I love a good Colombian story! Even if it’s all about coffee!

  4. Pedro Sanchez Reply

    Great to see the great project you got involved! I’m sure you are an even more coffee lover after the whole experience
    Best regards

    • @Pedro – Absolutely! It was so nice to learn more about a product that is a huge part of my everyday life, especially to meet the farmers who are at the heart of it.

  5. Learned so much from this! Great piece on my favorite subject coffee!



    • @Alex – Ahhh so glad you learned some new coffee facts from the post, and to hear that you are a fellow coffee lover. Thanks for reading!

  6. Joal Merren Reply

    I love you and I love coffee!! Agh this makes me want to travel. 💙 @joalmerren

  7. You’re stories are always so amazing and a highlight of when I get to catch up on them! -JoeyL06

  8. As a coffee lover, I think Colombia should be one of my next trips! Looks like an amazing experience. Have a great day, Will!

  9. Diego Varas Reply

    Looks like you had a great trip Will! I was there last month and I fall in love with all the colors and vibe that the country has, but after seeing your pictures seems that I need to go back and have a coffee experience.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. People think all coffee is created equal, but it seems you’ve found the best! I love the post, and of course all of the gorgeous photos!


  11. How much coffee did you consume down there? Looks like paradise ☕️
    ig: rookieten

  12. Steven Rodríguez Reply

    OMG !!! Little did I know about coffee and I’m suck a coffee addict too 😍🙈
    That was such an amazing trip Will, I’m glad that you guys enjoyed it.
    Btw that yellow jacket looks insane I ❤️ it !


  13. I use a pour-over coffee maker but the Nespresso seems amazing! Looks like you had a great time Colombia. – @marcusbryan

    • @Marcus – It really is amazing, I’ve been drinking Nespresso for about eight years or so and it makes the perfect espresso overtime! Thanks for stopping by!

  14. This was such a great post and brought back a lot of memories for me! I was also given the opportunity in high school to learn everything about coffee down in Puerto Rico with a farming group. It was such a great experience! It really makes you appreciate how hard those farmers work to make a fabulous cup of coffee for us to enjoy each morning. Great post Will!


    • @Austin – Thanks for reading! That’s so awesome that you were able to visit a Puerto Rican coffee farm during high school. And I completely agree, my awe for how hard and dedicated the coffee farmers are knows no bounds. So inspiring!

  15. Jardin looks like such a beautiful town. My Grade 6 students and I recently learned about fair trade coffee practices and we were shocked to learn how some farmers are treated. It’s wonderful to read about Nespresso’s sustainable quality program and the impact it’s making to help these hard-working (and cute) farmers. Thanks for sharing this experience. I’ll be showing my students this article. @robanthny

    • @Rob – Absolutely. I can only speak to the experience I had with Nespresso’s coffee farmers and I was genuinely so moved by the relationship they had. Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts (and in advance for showing it to your students!). P.S. Highly recommend a trip to Jardin – it’s gorgeous.

  16. What a great story. It means so much more when you know the products you are buying are responsibly sourced, and it shows just how much care goes into the making of them. I can’t start the day without a coffee, so it’s great to see how the whole process works. Hope you’re having a great day!

    • @Dale – Right? I completely agree. Having an emotional connection to, and understanding the provenance of a product makes such a difference. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  17. Glenn Preston Reply

    What an amazing trip and opportunity, I love Nespresso coffees but alas our machine finally gave up (heavy use and 10years old) and haven’t got a new one yet. We still prefer the original pods.
    This was a great and informative post, thanks for sharing.

  18. I travel for a living and loved visiting Colombia! The coffee is all that it’s hyped up to be and I’m so glad you got to experience this! I love your blog I look forward to every new post! @cjciavatta

    • @Chris – How amazing that you travel for a living; what a dream! Thanks for the kind words about my work and for supporting my blog. It makes me so happy to read that you enjoy the content.

  19. So happy you got to experience an origin trip. After working in Coffee for years, it is nice to see first hand the process from farm to cup.

    IG: Schweppity

  20. Brandon Fox Reply

    This was very interesting! I used to work as a barista in college for a small family-owned chain of coffee shops, and the owners would take our managers on a trip to tour coffee farms each summer in an effort to help them understand just how much work goes into those beans that we often take for granted. I always heard amazing things about Colombia from those trips and hope to go myself some day. 🙂 @bc_fox

    • @Brandon – Thats so nice that your old managers would take those trips. It really does make a difference when you understand the provenance of a product. Hope you get out there one day soon. 🙂

  21. This looks like such a great learning experience! Thanks for enlightening us.

  22. Anthony Kemp Reply

    Okay so all of this explains why Nespresso is so delicious. I had no clue this was the backstory behind those tiny pods. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story! @iamakemp

  23. When I visited a coffee farm in Hawaii, they also taught us that each tree only produces one pound of coffee a year. Really makes you think about how many farms must be preserved in order to supply our whole world’s obsession with coffee! 🙂

    IG : @flurmazing

  24. Brian Burchfield Reply

    I’ll take your word on the taste of poor quality coffee! I have been trying to learn more about coffee for work so this blog post was very insightful. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thourough description of everything you learned. I hope it was a blast!

  25. this was so interesting – I learned so much! it must have been such an amazing trip and so cool to see how this all works from the farmers themselves!

  26. Love being able to learn about these farmers and how they make the coffee we drink. Such a special experience that you got to meet them! @rush_hourrr

  27. OK, first off..when you said Columbia I immediately thought of Pablo Escobar. My husband and I have been watching the NARCOS series on Netflix. LMAO. Second, when you said you landed in Medellin, I giggled a bit because I thought of Vincent Chase from Entourage and how he portrayed Pablo Escobar in a fictitious movie called Medellin. LMAO. Playing the Word Association Game with you was NOT intentional. I swear. My husband and I are coffee drinkers and though I’ve heard of Nespresso (there’s a WHOLE FREAKIN’ STORE dedicated to it at a mall in my hometown, for crissakes!) and seen the commercials (Sofia Vergara is so damn cute), we don’t drink it. We prefer the easy-peasyness of Keurig and our strong-ass-puts-hair-on-your-chest (just kidding about this last part) Death Wish Coffee K-Cups. LOL But I loved reading about you and your heartmate’s journey and that place is SO colorful, it’s amazing. I’m pretty rusty on my Spanish, but does Jardin translate to Garden? If so, it seems fitting for a place that produces “gardens” of coffee.

  28. Caleb McKusick Reply

    so cool! love your attention to detail and relationships! @calebmckusick

  29. Love when you include your heart-mate in your posts. Also those JCrew ts are 👌🏼. @misterver

  30. Beautifully written and captured, your account definitely makes me want to experience Colombia first hand. Thank you for keeping us inspired, love it.

  31. Gabrielle Lee Gabauer Reply

    Omg beautiful photos. And love that you actually got to have a hands-on experience at the coffee farm. Seems like you had a lovely time xx

  32. Patrick McGettigan Reply

    I was so excited to see you had gone off to Colombia! When I was there this time last year I visited a few coffee growing regions and got to go through a hands on tour where we picked beans on the plantation and tasted a few different roasts. The culture, people and landscape made Colombia one of my favorite places on Earth!

    Best 🤗
    Patrick @patrickmcgettigan

  33. Ibrahim Hammada Reply

    You made me wanna visit Colombia and learn more about coffee. Glad you enjoyed your experience there!

  34. Wow, what a brew-tiful article!
    (That was a terrible coffee pun, I’m so sorry 😅) I loved it; really gives you an insight on something people don’t ever really think about. Sounds like you had a fantastic time and I absolutely love the colors in the photos!

    P.S. I love that you call him your heartmate omg.

  35. I’ve always loved Nespresso and their dedication to sustainability behind just creating amazing coffee. Wish more companies learn from their approach.
    Also great photos Will!
    My IG Handle is @followneel

  36. That’s awesome! Never learned so much about coffee ☕ in one post. It’s important to realize where these beans are farmed! Great idea to shed light on it.

  37. Paige Kraemer Reply

    Love, love love this post. So fun to see how coffee gets from farm to cup! I used to be a barista and would love to take a trip to see a coffee farm like this someday!

  38. These beautiful photos and blog post have made me want to travel to Colombia! I’m also glad I’m not the only one who enjoys coffee this much. 🙂 @mikael.bernard

  39. This was very interesting to read…I can’t believe how little I actually knew about coffee! From now on I’ll be testing everyone’s coffee round at work like a true connoisseur ☕️ @marcusballinger

  40. What a wonderful experience. As a fellow coffee drinker I know you enjoyed and learned so much! Happy caffeinating- @dharilo

  41. John Alberto Reply

    First, I love that you say heartmate. Coffee is such an amazing thing that brings people together, so I loved this post so very much. Nothing is more important to me than my Saturday morning coffee with my closest friend at the same cafe in the same stools at the bar. @johnnalberto

  42. Your stories from the trip were incredible. South America is definitely on my bucket list! It’s interesting to see that so much of what goes into the pod is more about the people that are there every step of the way. I love how compact the new nespresso mini is! Im moving and it would be perfect for my tiny and wayyyyyy too over priced apartment I’m moving into. @joshuadlangston

    • @Joshua – Thanks for following along with my stories from the trip. And the Essenza Mini is perrrrfect for small spaces; we have one in our tiny NYC apt!

  43. Will!
    What an enlightening post! I’ve totally been someone who has never put much thought beyond the cup. The imagery in this blog post is amazing! So glad you & your heartmate were able to experience such an amazing & informative trip!

  44. Your pictures are wonderful, and it sounds like the trip was exciting and equally informative! Thanks for sharing! Ig: @raisincain

  45. Alex Miranda Reply

    I’ve followed you for a solid year on Instagram and honestly it’s the first time I entered your blog. Loved your post and will be reading more of you. I love coffee as much as the next person but god Colombian coffee is truly the best. -@alexmirandalugo

    • @Alex – Thanks for supporting me over on IG and appreciate you taking time out to stop by the blog! And, yes, co-signed on Colombian coffee being the best!

  46. Ed Winstanley Reply

    @winstanleye – Will my heart mate doesn’t like coffee at all but I love my Nespresso and following you on social media shows me on a daily basis what I have to be thankful for and what I want to achieve. Your positivity is infectious and your zest for life is totally inspiring. Keep up the good work x

  47. Coffee is a such an important part of everyone’s day. I experienced the making of coffee when i was in Bali a few year ago. Similar process to what you described. Fascinating.

  48. These colors! My morning cup is like a morning meditation to me. Fab post. @deanj914

  49. LOVE coffee and would love a nespresso 🙃☕️—@msalyer87

  50. @ananewyork Reply

    So well written! As a Colombian myself, reading about your experience really warms by heart! Can’t wait to go back to Colombia together and keep exploring all the beauty you haven’t yet seen.

  51. thank you for sharing!! Warms my heart to see farmers who are so passionate and committed to their craft. What an amazing way to see how great coffee is cultivated.

  52. Michael Mandell Reply

    As a banker to the coffee industry for a number of years, I have a warm place in my heart for the farmers and families from all of the coffee growing regions. I’m so happy you had a chance to experience this for yourself and share with all of us. @michaelmandell

  53. How incredible that you got to experience the entire process of making coffee! It’s so important to be aware of where the products we consume come from and how they affect the people that make them. @luisdeburguete

  54. Love your blog and it was great to read and learn from your experience
    Ig handle: @akadambi04

  55. Brady Littleton Reply

    Hi Will!

    So excited you were able to spend time in Columbia – what an amazing experience! I love that Nespresso’s coffee is sustainably sourced. (Rosabaya is my fave too!)


  56. Colombia is an incredibly beautiful country and serves as a beacon of hope for peace throughout the world. I was lucky to spend some time there with Colombian youth who are working to foster a sprirt of reconciliation and forgiveness in their country. Thanks for shining a light on the work of Colombian coffee farmers. @louventurelli

  57. I LOVE this! It’s so amazing to learn more about the process of making something so many of us take for granted!

    – @tylerjmccall

  58. @antoniohab Reply

    Although i am not a big fan of coffe, but it’s am interesting article and fun to read 😄

  59. Kevin Dooley Reply

    Love following your adventures! And the constant pop of color in my feed!
    – @kevdool

  60. Alex Escareño Reply

    Love the article it’s so well written and fascinating it was so awesome to read about you’re experience in Columbia and being able to see all of those beautiful pictures it must have been a great trip. Also i like how you explained everything with details that was great of you to do. @alex_escareno

  61. Will, love the post and the pictures as usual! I’ve been able to travel to Ecuador several times and I feel you get such a wonderful appreciation for what hard work truly is when you see people working in productions like this! Thanks for sharing!
    Insta: @drawdrewdrawing81

  62. I’m always on the go and in search of new information on coffee!! Thank you for such an awesome blog post! I could def. use one of those nesporesso machines in this household to serve some yummylicious stuff to the fam!

  63. Filippo Car Reply

    I am from Italy and for us the culture of coffee is sonething very big! We are really proud of showing the world what we call “the right way to taste coffee” which is the Espresso, that was born in Naples many years ago! Today coffee here is a ritual we cannot get rid of!
    Thanks for your sharing, I much appreciated this article, because I admit that while tasting a good coffee in the morning, I barely thing on how much work is hidden behind every single sip of espresso!

    Ig: the_pippoo

  64. Hey Will,
    I’m so glad we have this in common among other things, coffee is too a very important part of my day and my life. And yes Nespresso does make such amazing blends. I love it when people invest in their interests, and learn what’s behind the things they love. I feel it makes us a little more appreciative of such things. So glad you had an amazing time in Volombia I’m sure it was incredible Latín America has so much beauty and richness to offer and its nice to feel appreciated in that way, me being Mexican. Anyhow I’m a big fan of you, of coffee and all things style.
    Lots of love from Mexico

  65. I had the chance to visit Colombia with my friends family when I was 18, and it truly is one of the most magical places I’d ever been. I hope to make it back again one day! The amazing coffee was definitely a highlight- even then I was obsessed! Now I always make sure to buy Colombian coffee at the supermarket. In addition to coffee, I hope you got a chance to try hot chocolate with cheese. It sounds strange, but is actually quite delicious!! @eliseheartwell

  66. Ah! I love tasting coffe from different places to see how the locals drink it. I think it is important to know how your food/drinks gets to your table/cup. What a beautiful post!


  67. Giovanni Xu Reply

    Just got a new apartment in NYC and I can’t wait to use some of your color inspo to liven up the rooms 😊 Of course some bespresso will me helpful to get that energy going and plan out all the rooms! @gio.xu

  68. Mheljor General Reply

    @iamgorgeousmheljor-I am also a coffee lover. I love tasting different types of coffee from my country, the Philippines and the coffee of our neighboring countries. From bean to cup, coffee gives me one of a kind satisfaction. Thank you Wil. It is a really nice blog.

  69. we have a nespresso boutique cafe here in dallas and it has definitely been a game changer. goodbye to the poop/burnt smelling starbucks! great read btw! @wesxc

  70. que bueno ver que les guste nuestro sabor colombiano, las tradiciones, los colores, los paisajes y por supuesto nuestra gente. orgulloso de ser colombiano.

  71. What a wonderful blog bro! Totally speechless… I just love to read your blog! Also loved reading about Colombian Coffee farmers. They are really hardworking. And Your blogs are really cool <3 Just Like You, I am also a coffee lover. Loved Nespresso! Continue sharing your blog with us Much Love! !

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hey, I'm Will

Welcome to Bright.Bazaar, my make-you-smile style corner of the internet. I’ve been sharing my love of beautiful design, feel-good homes, everyday style, inspiring travel and, pretty much everything in between, since 2009. As well as working as a content creator, I write interior design books and edit a bi-weekly e-newsletter called Smile Mail. I live in New York City with my heartmate and can often be found listening to Madonna’s Confessions album and dreaming up my next home renovation project.