I’m still trying to come down after my two ristrettos and an espresso, drunk in very short succession. I’ve just returned from the Nespresso Boutique on Regent Street in London to sample what the Connoisseur Club has to offer.
As a member, you can apply to events in store, on a first come, first served basis. It’s here you can learn more about the coffee you drink, some you don’t, and discover the aromatic profiles of the Grand Crus.
The boutique store is massive, and sells the Nespresso machines, capsules and at the heart of the boutique is the Tasting Bar and it’s here customers can explore the full range of 21 Grand Crus and this is where we’ll sip and slurp three coffee profiles.
There’s a diverse mix of members, all with one thing in common, they love their Nespresso and want to find out more about their favourite tipple.
Jonathon Sims is Nespresso’s Coffee Expertise Manager who takes us through what’s called ‘An Introduction to Sensory Analysis of Coffee.’ It’s a chance to see the coffee deconstructed and then reconstructed. The thing about the Nespresso capsule is that you don’t actually get to see or smell the coffee before it’s been through the machine, it’s hermetically sealed in a pod which means the user is physically disconnected with the product they’re about to consume.
Coffee begins to lose its freshness almost immediately after roasting and the point is shown in a two-cup, dry coffee test. Both smell totally different, one a day old the other from a just-opened capsule.
During the course of the 45 minute demonstration we discover that un-roasted beans smell of garden peas, we give our retro-nasal olfaction a workout, we’re shown how to use a cupping spoon and we learn how to identify taste using the coffee tasting wheel and our five taste senses.
We look at the perfect cup of espresso from the crema to the taste.
A short experiment with six cups of ‘doctored’ water determines our palates and we all do rather well at identifying salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.
Hold your nose and chew a jellybean, what do you taste? Not enough information to tell what flavour your chewing is there? You’ll get the sweetness from the sugar but not a lot else. This is another exercise we’re given to show how much we rely on our sense of smell when we taste, much of what we experience comes from scent and not simply taste.
Then it’s time to try some of the coffee with a few chocolates from the Hotel Chocolat range.
We begin with a Rosabaya de Colombia espresso, which is 6 on the intensity scale. We stir the liquid and discover a new level of flavour. The Grand Crus intensity level ranges from 1-13, and at the top-level is Cubania, a limited edition Grand Crus. The Rosabaya de Colombia is paired with a milk chocolate, filled with a sour cream cheesecake, rhubarb and ginger truffle. It brings out the red fruit in the coffee and is sweet and rounded on the mouth.
Next up is Dharkan, served as a ristretto (25ml), and 11 on the intensity scale. This is a powerful cup with hints of cocoa. When paired with a zingy, sour cherry and white truffle dark chocolate, the flavour hade distinct elements of roasted peanut and toasted hazelnut.
Kazaar is complex and has a persistence in the mouth, again 11 on the intensity scale, teamed with a dark chocolate infused with chilli. One Club member said it tasted like her mouth had been invaded by stinging nettles. Another said it was the “cigar of the Nespresso capsule” to be enjoyed occasionally, there’s no denying that this coffee will stay with you for a while. It’s a blend of two robustas from Brazil and Guatemala and has a powerful kick, a lot of peppery notes are offset by a creamy texture.
Here’s Jonathon explaining what notes he tastes when he cups it.
Any Club member can sign up to take part in the session and you’ll leave with your own cupping spoon, a sleeve of capsules and a recipe book, what are you waiting for?