I work in an office that has a small Nespresso machine that’s been in near-constant use by about 30 people for at least two years. You take a pod, jam it into a slot at the top, press a button and after a few seconds of loud straining a stream of coffee sputters messily out in a way that reminds me it’s about time to start taking the state of my prostate seriously.
The best thing I can say about Nespresso is that it’s convenient; it’s moderately easier to have a Nespresso espresso than it is to trek down four flights of stairs, cross a road or two, buy a better coffee, and return. It’s coffee that I take when I need a quick jolt in situations where it would be frowned upon to do a couple of lines. It tastes more or less like coffee and comes in varying levels of burnt.
Nespresso coffee is entirely what I expect it to be. I don’t drink it because it’s a single-origin, roasted-on-the-premises, ethically-sourced product served in a cup with my name written on it by perky Antipodeans; I drink it because it’s there and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t care. It should be inoffensive to me.
But, Christ, the colossal dollops of pretension served up with every pod make me more nauseous than the coffee. The ludicrous flagship Regent Street store, this giant boutique in the heart of London with column upon column of identically-coloured coffee pods and staff toadying up to you to find out to which side you dress. The advertising! George Clooney and Penelope Cruz furiously masturbating into each pod then giving a big, shit-eating grin to the camera. Fuck. You.
These things have all the innate sophistication of a pyramid of Ferrero Rocher, yet a hotel I stayed in recently had a Nespresso machine in the room along with a leather-bound box containing four Nespresso pods, presented in the same fashion one might present fine jewellery. How was I supposed to react? Carefully lift back the lid and gasp in delight at the sheer extravagance of the gesture? To make matters worse, one of the four pods was decaffeinated, which is to coffee what that fake drawer directly under your kitchen sink is to storage.
Even the name is boring. Nespresso. Nescafe. Nescafe Gold Blend. Anthony Head. Instant, boring coffee for instant, boring people. Service stations. Debenhams. If Nespresso were accurately marketed, the slogan would be along the lines of “Nespresso: It’s consistently, yet only marginally, better than an espresso you might make yourself” or “Nespresso: You may as well, right?” or “Nespresso: It’s just as good as Starbucks and you don’t have to put trousers and shoes on to get it”. It’s not a fucking lifestyle choice.
Pretty convenient, though! I might get a machine for the home.