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Who Invented Nespresso? How the Story Began, Facts & FAQ

nespreso machine and capsules

Espresso is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. This concentrated coffee drink is one of the main reasons people would make their way to local coffee shops hoping to find a barista with a flair for the perfect cup. For years, most of us thought a great shot of espresso must be made by a professional. Then something changed.

The invention of the Nespresso machine changed the lives of espresso lovers around the world. With this machine, they could enjoy their favorite drink in the comfort of their own home instead of visiting local shops and hoping for a confident barista. Who should coffee drinkers thank for this change in their lives? That answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think. At least, not in the eyes of the people involved. Eric Favre is the man who invented Nespresso, but there is more to the story. If you want to learn more about the man who invented the Nespresso machine, read on and learn his fascinating story.

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Who Is Eric Favre?

In the hopes of understanding the Nespresso machine’s story, you must first get to know the man behind it, Eric Favre. Hailing from the French-speaking canton of Vaud, this aerodynamics engineer graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne before joining the team at Nestle in 1975. While his academic and work achievements may be how he is best known, it was Eric Favre’s marriage to an Italian woman named Anne-Marie that brought his name to the forefront of the coffee world.

How the Story Began

According to Anne-Marie, Eric Favre’s Italian wife, the Swiss didn’t know coffee like they thought they did. In her opinion, the coffee enjoyed by her husband and his countrymen was bland and failed in comparison to the drinks she enjoyed in Italy. This teasing by his wife became a challenge to Favre and led him to his job inside Nestle’s packing department. He planned to learn the inner workings of the company and develop the perfect cup of espresso to prove his wife wrong.

In hopes of learning the Italian secret to great espresso, Eric and Anne-Marie set off on a coffee tour. The two of them visited several of Italy’s most popular coffee bars and cafes. It was while they were spending a bit of time in Rome that they visited Caffe Sant’Eustachio, where tourists and guides alike claimed the best espresso was located.

While Eric and Anne-Marie spent their time in the quaint shop questioning people who worked there and trying to get a peek at what was happening behind the bar, one day their persistence paid off. A barista named Eugenio let his secret slip. He didn’t simply pump the piston of the espresso machine once as other baristas did. On the contrary, he aerated his coffee with several short bursts made by pulling the lever in several bursts. This is where Eric’s plan to create an espresso machine that utilized this method came to life.

Image Credit: SCHAWANN michael, Shutterstock

A Rough Start for Nespresso

While Favre created a prototype featuring his new method, the team at Nestle wasn’t overly impressed with the idea. While Eric Favre’s goal was to bring espresso into shops, businesses, and homes, Nestle’s goal was to focus on its new instant coffee which was causing a craze nationwide.

Favre’s idea of using a capsule to aerate coffee for espresso didn’t get a chance to show itself to the world until 1986 when the director of Nestle gave the go-ahead to Nespresso to launch a subsidiary company. With a lot of hard work, Favre’s first capsules hit the market the same year.

Unfortunately, with the Nespresso machine being too high-end for most homes, these machines found their way into specialty areas. Businesses, hotels, and bars offered cups of espresso made by the original Nespresso machines. By the time a more affordable version of Favre’s capsules made its way into homes, it was time for him to leave the Nestle company for other horizons.

After leaving Nestle in 1991, Favre led the way in the creation of several espresso capsule companies. One, the popular Monodor, was where his wife, Anne-Marie Favre, found herself on the board of directors. She became quite an influential person in the company created thanks to her husband’s invention.

nespresso cups
Image Credit: AJEL, Pixabay

Capsule Issues Arise

Changing the packaging of his capsules from aluminum to polypropylene, Favre created a new world of incinerable capsules. This new packaging eliminated the need for an integrated filter. These filters were now a part of the machine and would always be reusable.

During the years following his departure from Nestle, quite a capsule war ensued. Nestle claimed the capsules were their creation while Favre wanted recognition for his creation. Patents, court cases, and years of back and forth finally came to a head, however, when Peter Brabeck, CEO of Nestle, and Eric Favre mended fences and put an end to the capsule wars.

Nespresso Machine
Image Credit: Mahrous Houses, Unsplash

Where Is He Now?

You may be wondering where Eric Favre and his wife Anne-Marie are today. After starting several capsule companies and revolutionizing the world of espresso, Favre sold his businesses to enjoy a quiet life. Now, he and Anne-Marie can enjoy one another’s time while he brags about his coffee no longer being bland.

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Final Thoughts

While the story of who invented Nespresso may sound slightly dramatic, it is quite suited for a great espresso machine. While fighting to put an end to bland coffee, Eric Favre brought an ingenious design to the world. This design not only helped him prove his wife wrong but also allowed each of us to enjoy an amazing cup of espresso in the comfort of our own homes.

Featured Image Credit: Nadia Storm, Unsplash


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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