Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Day With Nespresso

Recently, for my employer, I and a few coworkers were sent to a training put on by Nespresso to learn about their coffees. For someone who home roasts, and advocates experimentation and making slow coffee; it would seem like I was sent to be tempted by the devil.

I have had Nespresso's coffees before...many, many times before, actually. Once you understand the purpose behind the coffee, I can get into it. It is not something I want for everyday, but it is something I do not mind partaking in from time to time.

I will not get into my job, my employer, or even many of the details behind Nespresso. I seriously doubt there was a damn thing I learned that was proprietary or not already available online. Their machines and their coffee are all designed to have the best, freshest, and easiest coffee experience a person could have. Their materials are often referenced by home roasting companies to explain a few things about coffee and blends. Their intent is perfection every time.

Now me, I do not need every time, if I did it myself. I enjoy the surprise of a sublime cup of coffee.

However, Nespresso is a bit of a guilty pleasure, because it is good every time. When you are working, a nice, proper shot is what I am after. Nespresso is also a good benchmark for my own endeavors. Even if I rely more on single farm origin than they do. Nespresso changes where their blends come from, generally, to maintain that taste profile year after year. Personally, I like the Cosi for general sipping.

At the training, I had the opportunity to try out some of the "flavored" coffees. Apparently, it is something new for them to offer something other than coffee in their coffee. They have a chocolate, vanilla and caramel coffees now. Rather than drawing these tastes from the coffees themselves, they are using the real flavors to enhance it. I am not sure what the caliber of cocoa or vanilla they are using, but I am pretty sure they are of a higher grade than what is in a Nestle Crunch or Wonka bar.

(One a side note, been a while since I have had one of Wonka Bar's with grahams in it. Now, I want one.)

We all wondered how they pulled off the "natural" caramel, but no one seemed to ask. I would have assumed it was proprietary and need to know.

I was able to try the chocolate and the vanilla. The flavors are heavily there when breathed in. You smell chocolate. You smell vanilla. What you do not smell is the sugars that usually come with these two, or the slight alcohol of extracts. They are rather pure in the scent. I could stand around and sniff a shot like vapors, if the coffee was not what I was after. At some point, you have to give into the anticipation and take a sip.

Unfortunately, these flavors really do not get picked up on the tongue. They taste like one of the milder Nespresso blends. I think it is because there is no sugar or syrup to back the flavors, that they are lost on the tongue.

It is interesting, possibly a bit clever. However, I wonder how general coffee drinkers will take it. Apparently. they are popular among the Club members, and they decided to offer them because of demand. If I had one of their machines, and was buying their coffee for home? Would I pick up a sleeve?  Maybe. Or maybe the average drinker is trained to think of chocolate flavored coffee to be more like hot chocolate with coffee in it.

A long way back, I used to work retail. During one of the Christmas seasons, Starbucks offered traditional sipping chocolate. It was an extra thick, creamy sort of mixture with the hint of bitterness of chocolate, without being too sweet, and no milk They served it in a special cup that was slightly bigger than their double shot cups. One day, I had the brilliant idea to ask for an added shot of espresso to it. Now, there was an eye opener.

The Nespresso chocolate coffee is nothing at all like that.