The good old British cuppa has an image problem. According to recent reports, traditional tea drinking is in decline, as we succumb to the lure of green teas, tisanes and a bushel of fruity infusions. This would have baffled my late grandmother, whose liked her Tetley (or Typhoo) served in a pint mug and stewed to the colour of American Tan nylons (M&S, of course). An anaemic-looking brew or anything a bit fancy (Darjeeling or Earl Grey) would invariably be greeted with the suggestion that it “needed an iron tablet”.
It’s not just posh teas that are threatening the humble cuppa’s position in the nation’s affections. Since I bought an Nespresso machine in July, I’ve realised that the making, serving and consumption of coffee is more than just a way to head off that mid-morning slump. Nespresso is a lifestyle choice: sexy, sophisticated and aspirational, it’s the almost-instant coffee that says you’re really going places.
By going places, I don’t just mean hanging out with the latte-lovin’ Daily Mail readers down at your local branch of Costa, Caffè Nero or (God forbid) Starbucks. When you drop a shiny aluminium capsule into your Nespresso machine, you’re instantly transported to the shores of Lake Como, where middle-aged sex gods George Clooney and Jean Dujardin are competing over that last Volluto capsule.
I’m no coffee connoisseur and I lack the refined palate and extraordinary descriptive powers of a Jilly Goolden, but I do know that a cup of freshly brewed Nespresso tastes darn good. To get the low-down on those Grand Cru capsules, I refer you to the Nespresso website, which reveals that Fortissio Lungo (one of my favourites) is “rich with cereal notes”, while the purple pleasure that is Arpeggio “has a strong character and intense body” (a bit like Jean Dujardin).
Nespresso would still be a highly desirable product even if it tasted like the lukewarm dishwater they serve up in Starbucks. That’s because the Nespresso website is the coffee equivalent of the United Colours of Benetton. From the rainbow shades of the Grand Crus to the tropical hues of the diminutive Nespresso Inissia (“Playful colours, Unique Pleasure”), this is a coffee experience to satisfy all the senses.
As you may have noticed, there’s plenty of scope for double entendres in Nespresso’s marketing. From that cheeky “How far would you go?” tagline to limited edition coffees (Milano and Palermo) that promise “a sensory exploration”, you might forget that they’re just flogging coffee and not prophylactics.
I hope Nespresso does have a sense of humour because that would help to offset the pretentiousness of its brochures and those intimidating London boutiques, where you can purchase your coffee capsules with a side order of contempt from its self-important “coffee experts”.
George Clooney and Jean Dujardin may be as smooth as a cup of Volluto but when it comes to advertising I prefer the tongue-in-cheek approach of the fondly remembered Brooke Bond Red Mountain advert. Coffee anyone?