Cuban coffee returning to U.S. but only for Nespresso brewers

Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:59pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein and Marcy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nestle SA's (NESN.S: Quote) Nespresso says it will become the first company to sell Cuban coffee in the United States in more than 50 years, as relations between the Cold War adversaries smooth.

The U.S. State Department in April added coffee and other products to its list of eligible imports produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

That regulatory change cleared the way for Nespresso to begin U.S. sales this autumn of Cafecito de Cuba, an espresso roast for its home brewers, the company said on Monday.

Nespresso purchased the coffee in Europe via Cuban state export companies. It will process and package the beans, grown by small-holder farmers, in Europe.

Nespresso USA secured necessary licensing from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to ship single-use brewer pods containing the Cuban coffee from Europe to the United States.

Initially available in limited quantities, Cafecito de Cuba aims to deliver on Nespresso's mission to deliver "exclusive, unique coffee experiences," said Guillaume Le Cunff, Nespresso USA president.

Nespresso also is partnering with TechnoServe, a Washington-based nonprofit, to support independent coffee farmers on the Caribbean island.

"We want consumers in the U.S. to experience this incredible coffee and to enjoy it now and for years to come," said Le Cunff, who aims to forge long-term relationships with Cuban producers.   Continued...

A Nespresso store logo is pictured next to St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader