[I wrote a version of this almost five years ago on a different blog. I’m cribbing from that entry and adding a little extra, because, really, nobody likes a rerun.]
I played hookie one day last week to go see the peacock mantis shrimp at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This entry isn’t about that.
My friend Vince is funemployed right now, in between jobs, so I persuaded him to come with me to the aquarium. We both had other commitments in the late afternoon and evening, so I picked him up at 8am to be at the aquarium by 9:30am, shortly after it opened. An 8am pickup for a night owl like me, even a CT night owl operating on PT, requires coffee, stat.
Vince is a foodie, and he owns the snobbiness aspect of being a foodie. This means that when I get coffee with him, it’s NEVER at Starbucks. We went to Roy’s Station, a Japantown institution where they made my latte with whole milk and cold-brewed espresso. It was delicious, delicious enough that I didn’t miss my Nespresso machine.
There are a lot of people out there, including Vince the foodie, who sneer at single-serve coffee machines. (We almost didn’t become friends because of it.) After drinking coffee from numerous Keurigs and those machines that so many offices have (you know, the ones that use pouches of whatever), I don’t sneer, but it’s not the best coffee I’ve ever drunk. My Nespresso, though –my Nespresso I will defend to the death.
I’m headed to Australia later this year with Loraine (whom you will see mentioned frequently in this blog), ostensibly to hit the Barossa. Secretly, the real reason I’m so excited is that I’ll get to drink the coffee again. Given how much I like wine and the many charms of Australia, I know it seems odd to be most happy about the coffee. The thing is, coffee can be deceptive. Remember the first time you smelled coffee, and nothing else that you’d smelled previously compared to how rich and deep the aroma was? And no experience that you’d had previously compared to the disappointment of drinking it? Coffee is weird in that it doesn’t often taste like it smells, or at least, most of the coffee I’ve drunk doesn’t.
And then I went to Australia for work. I don’t know what they do to it down there, but even the airport coffee is amazing. Coffee in Australia tastes exactly like it smells. It’s a heavenly experience every time. All the wasted anticipation from the first time I had a cup of crappy, American, drip coffee got satisfied decades later in an unassuming, paper cup.
I’m sensitive to caffeine, so I tend to limit myself to two cups a day, or I risk a sleepless night. When I’m in Australia, I drink five cups a day, and only the last one or two are decaffeinated. I get it any time it’s available or there’s a coffee shop in my path.
It’s not drip coffee. All of it is espresso and espresso-based. The easiest thing to do is order yourself a cappuccino and bask in the goodness. Or drink it as fast as you can and order another two. Not that I’ve ever done that.
The last time I was in Australia, I presented at two all-day meetings in Melbourne in a hotel conference room. Melbourne has the best coffee in Australia, even the Sydneysiders will admit that. At the first meeting, the hotel served drip coffee, and the clients were taken aback, to the point that several of them called us on it. We talked to the hotel, and magically, for the second meeting, the hotel put an espresso machine in our meeting room.
That kind of proximity to the espresso machine was pure heaven. I had a cup at every break. Don’t worry, I switched to decaf after the first three cups because I didn’t want to (a) speak too quickly, which I tend to do without assistance or (b) have a heart attack. I was very open about my love for Australian coffee, and one of the clients suggested that I buy the home version of the commercial Nespresso machine that was in the room. (Actually, what she said was that I should buy the “George Clooney machine” – George is Nespresso’s poster boy overseas, which just makes me like him more.)
I wrestled with the decision. I wrestled like Jacob wrestled with the angel. And I ultimately came down on the side of “no” because I was concerned about bringing a machine wired for Australian electricity to the U.S. and how I was going to get the coffee capsules that the machine uses. I thought about asking my colleagues to take turns shipping me my drug of choice every three months, but in my heart, I knew that would be pushing the bounds of friendship too far.
Then I went on vacation to Italy, where the coffee is also amazing. When I mentioned how much I liked the espresso to the villa manager, she suggested that I get a “George Clooney machine.” That did it. I didn’t buy one in Italy, but when I got home, I got online and discovered that Nespresso makes machines for just about every country in the world, including the U.S.
I’ve had that machine for five years now. It wasn’t the cheapest machine in the world, but given how much use I’ve gotten out of it, it’s been worth every penny and then some. I’m nearly always disappointed when I drink coffee away from home now.
You might be openly mocking me for having this much love for an inanimate object, but you can ask my friends Melissa and Cindi and Dawn about how delicious the coffee is that Nespresso makes and how it satisfied a room full of Melbournians. And if you ever visit me, I’ll make you a cup, but be warned: it will change your life. It will be nearly impossible to drink any other coffee again without a little twinge of disappointment.
AMEN! I got addicted too… Not to George Clooney, but Nespresso. What else? 😉
People don’t believe how good it is until they try it, and then WHAMMO — they have to have it. And then they are sorry they didn’t try it sooner. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well, Adriano. Would love to see you face-to-face again soon.
Cannot express enough love for Nespresso and my Nespresso machines. Have owned one since 2002. Currently have a burnt orange “pixie” which I bought in 2011 that delivers consistently great-tasting coffee from my little purple pods flawlessly all day, every day. This is a company that truly gets “it” better than most – an engaging web site that is both functional and artistic; extremely high quality products always delivered in two business days or less; and, a customer-first mission that fuels employee and customer connectivity.
YES to all of this. I go for the bronze capsules myself, and i just got an e-mail that the chocolate, vanilla, and caramel flavored pods are back. I love those because there’s just a hint of flavor and no sweetness.
I own a Nespresso machine because of you, and my other friend, who both wholeheartedly recommended it when I needed suggestions on Facebook two years ago. It is a purchase I use daily and it still makes me smile. Having just returned from Italy, I can say that Nespresso still doesn’t quite capture the flavorfulness of the fresh brewed espresso (where are Illy pods?!), but it comes awfully close. And I second your take on Australian coffee…it is divine.
Love this post and am always searching for that “amazing cup of coffee.” Still dream about the cappuccino I had once in Venice…
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I remember that meeting vividly as well as coffee in Australia. I never even drank coffee until I moved there. And now, back in the US, I still order lattes hoping to find one like you could get anywhere in Australia. It’s futile…
Get a Nespresso machine, and the lattes you make will be very, very close.