20 YEARS OF THE AAA PROGRAM 

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. Created in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the AAA Program has grown from just a few hundred Costa Rican coffee farmers in its infancy to incorporate more than 150,000 farmers around the world. This year also coincides with the 10th anniversary of our annual AAA Farmers & Agronomists awards, where we celebrate the remarkable talents of these individuals in our global coffee sourcing regions.

RECOGNISING THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF THE AAA PROGRAM

In 2023, the winning teams for the 10th anniversary edition of the AAA Farmers & Agronomists awards include many previous winners. There are also some new winners too, most of whom are trailblazing a path towards regenerative and inclusive coffee agriculture, a key objective for the AAA Program over the coming decade.

 
To allow Nespresso employees to connect more deeply with each winning team, a series of live video encounters were carried out. Later, a virtual awards ceremony was held, allowing each farmer & agronomist team to celebrate live with Nespresso employees worldwide. As well as a prestigious trophy, each team will now receive monetary recognition, earmarked for investment into their farms and associated community projects. 

 

DISCOVER THE 2023 AAA FARMERS & AGRONOMIST AWARDS WINNNERS

Farmer/Producer: 
Ana Paula Curiacos Urtado ​& Marcelo Urtado

After taking over the farm, Ana and Marcelo quickly recognised that it was being run in a conventional way and highly dependent on chemical fertilisation. With their respective backgrounds in agronomy and animal science, they understood the potential for the farm to work in harmony with nature. But theory is one thing. Putting it into practice at scale takes courage and the farm is now a beacon to others in the region, showing how regenerative agriculture can be both nature-positive and profitable.

“We knew we had to do something different. The goal was to increase biodiversity and improve resilience. We started with techniques such as cover crops – using different crops in the middle of the coffee plants – as well as planting different varieties of trees. It means we can now use 100% biological products and the cover crops act as our ‘fertiliser factory’, getting nitrogen from the atmosphere to put in the soil. In the beginning people called us crazy…now we don’t have time to receive everybody that wants to come to the farm!”
Ana Paula Curiacos Urtado & Marcelo Urtado

 

Farmer/Producer: 
Sutrisno
Agronomist: 
Kaswindi

Farmer/Producer:
Dona Noelia Ruiz
Agronomist:
Yasmin Rocio Carrero

Part of the AAA Program since 2010, Noelia is a true advocate for regenerative agriculture. She is a passionate believer that love and detailed care in every step is crucial to successful coffee growing and processing. Together with Rocio, they are shining examples of women leadership in rural areas and always on the front line in supporting the community.

“I’m very proud to be a women coffee grower and to represent Huila in Colombia. Our planet changes every day, and we must adapt. With love, emotion and passion for what you do, you are able to really change things on the farm. Here, we are not just producing sustainable coffee, we are growing fruits and vegetables so that the farm produces the food that the farm workers need too.”
Dona Noelia Ruiz 

Farmer/Producer: 
Alejandra Quesada 
Agronomist: 
Melissa Chacon 

By using organic fertiliser and creating compost from farm material, Alejandra and Melissa are transforming their environment with nature-based solutions and are already yielding astonishing results. In the past 3 years, 2,000 trees have been planted with a focus on timber and fruit bearing varieties for animals to feed on. With the intention to rehouse the native bird species, Alejandra and Melissa estimate that this initiative has already seen an 80% increase in animals and birds on the farm. Having taken the reins from her father, Alejandra is now in charge of the whole operation. With Melissa’s expertise and an eye on a future in harmony with nature, the two are breaking norms in Costa Rica. 

“It was scary taking over the farm from my father but we did the handover together and I have learned to do everything. I do it all myself, from pruning the coffee trees and cutting the grass to planting new varieties of trees.”
Alejandra Quesada

Farmer/Producer: 
Catherine Mbwando
Agronomist: 
Catherine Madhuku Sithole  

Farmer/Producer: 
Jessy Maria Gutierrez González
Agronomist: 
Juan Diego González Kuant 

With climate change increasingly affecting Nicaragua, every day brings a new challenge to both farmers and agronomists. Hand in hand with Nespresso, there is an energised motivation from Juan Diego and Jessy to implement new actions and fight these challenges. Knowing that the most important practice is taking care of the environment and nature, they are now choosing varieties of trees that require less water and are implementing the recirculation of water in the wetmill. With their connection to their land and willingness to pass on knowledge to other Central American AAA farmers and agronomists, they’re building a strong community too.

“Thanks to Nespresso, farmers were able to survive through hard times. They were able to dream and imagine how they could make their farms better and now these dreams have come true. I was wondering how I could ever afford to send my son to university, now, thanks to the premium I receive from Nespresso, he will be graduating in December.”
Jessy Maria Gutierrez González

Farmer/Producer: 
Concepción Perez Martinez
Agronomist: 
Nisbet Gutierrez Martinez 

Concepción Perez Martinez is a wife, mother, grandmother and a trailblazer in her community. Not only is she in charge of the farm, but she is also experimenting with new initiatives whilst sharing her workload with her husband. When she is working, he will be at home cooking and vice versa. With the help of AAA agronomist Nisbet, they are implementing organic composting and fertilisation techniques and eliminating the application of herbicides.

“When I cut the old branches from the trees with the machete, I put them at the base of the coffee tree. This organic matter covers the roots and protects from extreme weather and soil erosion. I am now well known in the community, and I am proud that other women are being influenced by me. I am helping to bring knowledge and also employment to the area by showing other women that they too can work in the coffee market.”
Concepción Perez Martinez

 

Farmer/Producer:
Natividad Aguilar Sanchez
Agronomist:
Catherin Yesenia 

Farmer/Producer: 
Nyota Mukuza
Agronomist: 
Judith Zawadi 

Displaying resilience in the face of challenges including conflict, climate change and societal gender inequality, Nyota and Judith are once again the worthy winners of the AAA Award in the DR Congo. Their unique, organic coffee from the South Kivu region is a testament to their hard work and dedication. On a relatively small farm, Nyota has successfully raised the quality and production of her coffee and, with the help of Judith, she is implementing regenerative practices and breaking down gender barriers.  

“I have adopted a number of best practices including pruning and rejuvenating the coffee trees, applying organic compost, introducing mulching to prevent erosion and shown good shade management by planting 150 native trees and 50 timber trees. I have also diversified with initiatives to complement the coffee production such as raising goats for manure and intercropping with bananas, beans and soybeans.”
Nyota Mukuza

Farmer/Producer: 
Dr Gerald Pereira and Daughter Miloka Pereira
Agronomist: 
Sachin Kumar

Leading the way in regenerative coffee farming, the Pereira family are using a range of nature-based solution. Soon to be handing over the business to his daughter Miloka, Dr Pereira has recently invested in 45 cows, cowsheds and a biodigester. Gerald and Miloka now convert all the farm waste and produce natural compost for their coffee trees. As well as planting trees to promote biodiversity, other new initiatives include adding biomass to the soil, harvesting rainwater with a new storage tank and their ongoing commitment to ‘no chemical’ weeding.

“I thank Nespresso for giving me this award for the third time. The AAA Program has given me a holistic approach to farming practices.”
Dr Gerald Pereira

RAISE A CUP FOR 20 YEARS OF COFFEE MADE WITH CARE

 

Farmer Award medal

We celebrate this year’s winning farmers and agronomists, their amazing achievements and unyielding drive toward change. Next time you savour a Nespresso coffee, join us in raising your cup to the 150,000+ AAA farmers and nearly 500 agronomists whose dedication is helping to make coffee a force for good.

 

 

Article published in: November 2023.