Rant: The Nespresso Store

by The Editor

Well, God knows we’ve tried to avoid it, but a few days ago conceded it was perhaps time to visit the Nespresso Store, newly opened in The Canberra Centre.

This was, for us, an act of treachery. For months we have roamed the city searching for the best coffee to find ourselves occasionally disappointed but on most occasions pleased. To walk into the multinational’s top tier showroom was going to take a lot of inner strength – we could only imagine what our local barrister would say if he’d spied us hovering hesitantly at the entry of the store armed with dodgy camera phones. Think about it. This is the company that makes Blend 43.

So, what did we find? To be honest, the first impression was of a caffeinated version of The Apple Store (as if that was necessary). While the mood is definitely more sombre  one certainly gets the feeling you could be in any Nespresso store anywhere in the world save for the view out the window.  The layout is the same, the displays are the same and the coffee is the same.

As we walking through the door there is a race between two attendees to see who can get to us first. Both are dressed smartly in long black uniforms (see what we did there?) and match the muted tones of the interior. The gentleman hesitates for no more than the briefest of moments, and therefore allows ‘Kathy’ to capture our attention. “Good afternoon,” she says politely, “and welcome to Nespresso” and with that we acquiesce completely and enter the mothership.

It’s an extraordinary scene. The store appears to decorated by a single product: Nespresso pods. Whether in their little foil containers or collected together in boxes, they are absolutely everywhere. They’re embedded in the walls are exposed in the counters. On some occasions they serve a purpose, to be sold or to instruct customers of the various flavours and styles of the coffee within. At other times they are simply decorative, creative rainbow splashes of colour throughout the dark interior.

The bonus for all those who are scared or too proud to enter is there is a no-cost benefit to crossing the threshold. Without even having to ask, the ninja-like employees will push upon you a shot of Nespresso, served in a ceramic cup with or without milk or sugar – completely to your liking – without batting an eyelid. All that remains is for you to swallow the remains of your pride before the contents of the cup.

Where this gets tricky is the option overload that can easily lead to paralysis of choice. There are, according to the Nespresso website, 16 variations of pod available from the store. Even the range of decaffeinated coffee is extraordinary especially considering the presence of even one variety is enough to realise a sneer from discerning drinkers.

Kathy informs us the coffee comes from all around the world and, while some varieties come from one country only, multiple growers supply the beans that are combined to create a consistent flavour across every pod in every store in every bloody country in the entire bloody world. Apparently Nescafe themselves get involved with some growers to ensure quality and shore up supply, but all we could think of was farmers arranged in the same way Foxconn workers assemble iPhones. It all felt a bit uncomfortable, and we were sure to jot it down in our Notes app.

After a shot of Rosabaya de Colombia (please understand how hard it was to type that) we decided to beat a hasty retreat out of the store to purge our minds and tastebuds of multinational convenience ‘espresso’ and go to make fun of the people lining up for Subway. Unfortunately, with the exit in sight, we were halted by the ultimate horror: We checked it twice to make sure what we were looking was, well… a thing.

Sure enough it was. There, in the centre of the room was among other flavours, were the Terre d’Arabica coffee scented candles. Nespresso candles! WTF!!! This is simply too much – or perhaps it’s the Rosabaya hitting the receptors. Regardless we make a mad and terrified dash for the street – lest Kathy wheels out a trolley full of Nespresso bath bombs.