Climate-friendly caffeine: sustainably sourcing Selecta coffee

Alicia Fieldhouse sat down with New Food and discussed why Selecta, a major supplier of coffee, is interested in the origin, who grows it, as well as how it makes it from farm to cup.

Since its founding in Switzerland in 1957, the self-service distribution system Selecta has grown to include coffee shops in all of Europe.

Selecta acquired Pelican Rouge in 2017. Selecta purchased this long-established coffee service and vending business. This move enabled coffee to be distributed on the go in workplaces as well as hotels, restaurants, and cafes.

Selecta has since then established a new brand focus that they hope will allow sustainably produced coffee to reach all consumers in Europe. Alicia Fieldhouse from Selecta, Client Solution Specialist and Coffee Expert, spoke to New Food about the development of business partnerships, as well as the importance of consistent innovation and sustainable sourcing.

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What is the background of Selecta’s Pelican Red Coffee?

Alicia Fieldhouse: Selecta has been the UK’s leading supplier of high-quality workplace refreshments for over 25 years.

Every day, we serve more than 10 million people in 16 different countries throughout Europe with premium coffee, beverages, snacks, and meals. We are dedicated to creating moments of joy and happiness for our clients.

Selecta Group acquired Pelican Rouge in 2017. This marked the beginning of a new, exciting chapter and provided significant opportunities for joint ventures as a leading European operator. Pelican Rouge has been roasting and packaging instant coffee and ingredients for more than 150 years. Pelican Rouge operates in 65 different countries with a vast network of distributors. They supply private-label components and coffee for the capsule industry.

Pelican Red is a coffee company that was founded in 1863. Selecta Group purchased Pelican Rouge in 2017, a move Fieldhouse described as “an exciting new chapter.”

We introduced 20 new coffee blends in the Pelican Rouge range last year. The blends will be re-launched and displayed at the London Coffee Festival this year. This is the first UK event for the Pelican Rouge. The combinations are available in 36 countries and range from mild to classic roasts.

What certifications have you obtained in order to ensure that the coffee you source is ethically and sustainably?

AF: We support our supply chain partners to become certified, and we also help farmers achieve certification. We recognize that certification is a key foundation for addressing sustainability issues. Our certified coffee (ground and instant) has been verified and recognized by certification schemes like Rainforest Alliance Fairtrade and Organic.

Pelican Rouge blends come in recyclable packaging and are Rainforest Alliance-certified or Fairtrade-certified. Pelican Rouge has committed to making the entire business process sustainable. This includes reducing CO2 in the supply chain and sourcing coffee with transparency.

The new Pelican Red coffee is not only a certified range of coffee but also aims to achieve sustainability in the entire supply chain. The new brand combines five sustainability elements, including certified coffee, recyclable packaging, and reduced CO2 emissions. It also supports local farmers. Pelican Red creates a stable and sustainable coffee supply chain by actively developing farm-level programs.

Fieldhouse explains that Selecta “is committed to sourcing certified coffee while supporting supply-chain partners and farmers in achieving certification.”

Selecta’s Selecta Coffee Fund programs (SCF) enable Selecta to invest in community programs that train farmers in sustainable farming techniques, improve their livelihoods, protect and improve the environment, increase coffee quality and yield, and tackle social issues. Each bag of Pelican Red coffee supports the Selecta Coffee Fund.

What is your process of sourcing coffee beans, and how do you choose the best beans for your blends?

Selecta cares about where and to whom its coffee is grown, as well as how it gets to the cup. We are committed to building long-term trading relationships with our partners and growers through our collaborations and agreements.

Our coffee sourcing has a positive impact on the environment and society. We use traceability to show this. We began testing and using this system in 2022, and we aim to expand this approach over time.

We trace the origin of Pelican Red coffee through our partnerships with platforms like Beyco – a global independent platform for coffee trading and connection on blockchain – and Rainforest Alliance archives and Fairtrade archives. To increase the visibility of our supply chain, we work with multiple partners, including traders, cooperatives, and washing stations, as well as individual smallholder farms.

What steps are taken to ensure that your coffee is consistent in taste and quality for the mass market?

AF A stringent quality control procedure is the first step to ensuring consistently high-quality coffee. This includes approving samples before shipment and specifying our acceptance parameters. Then, we match our landed selections against those parameters.

Our coffee is checked upon arrival at the roaster and before it’s transferred to the silo. Before it can be ‘passed,’ we look for moisture and defects.

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