Being a coffee professional, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I spend a lot of time talking to friends and strangers alike about coffee. Invariably, if the conversation goes past ‘Large Cappuccino with two please’, I like to get to talking about where coffee comes from, and why the particular coffee I’m making them will taste the way it tastes.
Usually from here the subject will switch to home brewing, and quite often, the customer will sheepishly say that they have a Nespresso machine at home. At first, this would be a bit of a conversation killer, I’d swing them their Cap with two and they’d be on their way. But as I kept running in to this answer, I decided that Nespresso is here and it’s popular, and it is time to change the way I think about it.
So, rather than being dismissive, I would take the opportunity to find out what it is they like and don’t like about Nespresso. Most people when asked, talk about how it's easy, it’s convenient, it’s consistent. The negatives that usually come out relate to the pod wastage, or the quality of the product - especially if these are regular customers who get used to drinking specialty coffee and then go back home to Nespresso. Price is also a common gripe for those who have bothered to work out the $/kg rate for Nespresso - much higher than freshly roasted specialty coffee.
I was having this exact conversation for the hundredth time over the weekend, and when I told the person that I think Nespresso is great, they had a shocked look on their face. Hell, the reason you’re reading this article is probably because of the Clickiest of Click Bait title of the blog post.
The reason I love Nespresso though is that it’s a stepping stone to making Specialty Coffee at home. The ease of use and convenience get people making coffee, and as you know when you start making coffee, you want to learn more and more about it and how to make it better and with different devices. So many of the people I have this conversation with are legitimately interested and open to the idea of brewing with something like an Aeropress for example.
However, if you were to pull out scales, a gooseneck kettle, and a filter roast of a natural-processed microlot, you would lose the uninitiated in a heartbeat. We brew coffees like this every day, and to us brewing like this is as simple as putting a pod in to a machine. But to the average person, it seems like a distant world. No matter how amazing the brew tastes, the customer can’t relate or seem themselves doing this at home.
The biggest barrier to home brewing is the learning curve. I remember when I had my first Cappuccino maker at home, before I worked in coffee. I would try so hard to make a really good coffee but was always disappointed with the preground coffee I had bought from the supermarket. Sometimes it would taste great, sometimes not so much, and I didn’t understand how I could make it well one time and then not the next.
Nespresso takes that learning curve away, and gets coffee in people’s hands. From here, it is easier for me now as a coffee educator to teach people the basics of brewing great coffee at home. Then, when they taste it and watch the brew guides, they feel empowered to take their coffee journey to the next level, and we all know how fun and exciting that coffee journey can be! Nespresso just helps to provide that daunting first step, and for that reason, I love it.