Cheeseburger Gothic

Nespresso, the secret of my deadline success

Posted November 18 into Food & Drink by John Birmingham

It's no secret that I've been cranking the words of late. But although I've tweaked a few things in my workflow, I credit this bad boy, the Nespresso Pixie, with keeping me at the keyboard and on my game a little longer each day.

I resisted buying one for a long time. Long enough that Jane eventually rolled her eyes and made the purchase anyway.

I was sceptical. But I have seen the Light.

I recall reading an article in The New Yorker a whole ago about how coffee making was ripe for automation, but having had the experience of campus coffee machines long ago, I didn't believe them. Turns out I should have. There is of course both art and science to brewing a perfect cup, but the art is rare and for most of us it can be replaced by the science. A good barista is a craftsman or woman of great skill, but making coffee is also a process that lends itself to being programmed. A controlled blend of coffee grounds, exposed to water of a specific temparture and pressure for a measured amount of time will deliver that same result every time.

Get those inputs right and your output will be unvaryingly sublime.

That's why a lot of restaurants sneakily, shamefully make your coffee out of sight now. They're using a Nespresso machine.

If you order an after-dinner espresso at roughly a third of the twenty-four hundred Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, you receive a demitasse filled with a thin drink that came out of small, thimble-shaped pod packed with five or six grams of coffee that was pre-ground a month or more prior. You are drinking Nespresso, which has quietly infiltrated restaurants all over the world in the name of convenience and consistency - The New Yorker.

For me, it's meant fewer trips to the local cafe. Much fewer. I still buy coffee while I'm out, but I'm even pickier and more dismissive of shitty brown water than I used to be, especially at $4 a pop. The unit cost of each Nespresso pod is about 70c. Plus I'm not having them with muffins or brownies, so I've cut out hundreds of sugary calories a day. I've lost weight using this thing! About a kilo and a half. (And grabbed an hour of time for myself that I've been using to write more).

The coffee is uniformly good and comes in dozens of different blends, some flavoured with natural oils to create chocolate or caramel aromas. I usually stock up on pods every four or five weeks and there's a lovely air of Jony Ive-style wankery to the set up at the Nesresso shop. In fact, the whole thing reminds me of the vaguely cultish experience of visiting the Apple Store.

So naturally, I approve.

20 Responses to ‘Nespresso, the secret of my deadline success’

sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 18
Yes. Had one for three years now. The morning visit to the bench has now become ritual.

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Chaz reckons...

Posted November 18
We've had ours for years, of course there was much wailing about costs when I got it!

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 19
Espresso. Tea. Bourbon. Gin. Heroin. Meth. Whatever it takes to get you to the desk and pumping out words.

damian mutters...

Posted November 20
Auden classified most of those as "modern labor saving technology" for writers, along with benzedrine but minus the meth which hadn't become popular by his time.

Lulu asserts...

Posted November 21
Didn't benzedrine do pretty much the same thing as meth? I read somewhere about David Selznick making Gone With The Wind on "bennies" - sleeping one day a week or something ridiculous.

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trib is gonna tell you...

Posted November 19
Birmo! You're killing me.

Nespresso and its ilk are responsible for an insane amount of additional landfill because their pods aren't biodegradable. The coffee itself, fantastic compost, but it's locked away in aluminium packaging.

Aunty covered this recently on Lateline

Biodegradable pods are starting to emerge, so I encourage you to use those or a pod recycler. Details in aforementioned ABC story - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-24/former-nespresso-boss-warns-coffee-pods-are-killing-environment/7781810

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 19
What trib said

NBlob reckons...

Posted November 19
Indeed. If one was to set out to design a Worst choice, one might have lined the pods with foetal white rhino hide. But that'd be about it. I love coffee, I accept schlepping it from the mountains isn't exactly carbon neutral, but the pods are to much for me.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 20
They've got a recycling program now. The pods get reclaimed for the aluminium and the coffee grounds go to agriculture for mulch.

damian asserts...

Posted November 20
Well I agree that automation is cool, however we're now into the 6th with our current coffee machine. Came with a free grinder of the sort where the grind goes directly into the espresso basket. Leaving the grind setting where we have kept it for years now, making a ritual of shaking, tapping and then applying a muscle-memory of tamping pressure delivers great results most times. We've so ritualised that we take the whole apparatus with us on holidays (one more milk crate size box in the back of the wagon, with space for some extra bits and pieces between stuff).

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Domestic Daze swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 19
I have yet to succumb to the heady delights of such black magic.
Although I get the feeling that it is only a matter of time, but with limited space in my kitchen........I guess I can live without the microwave after all.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted November 19
I remember when you told us of your love for your Aeropress coffee plunger. Where did it all go wrong?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 20
Still love the aeropress, but i'm running a production line now.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted November 20
Isn't there some coffee based suppository you could use so you're not wasting valuable writing time making pod coffee?

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jason ducks in to say...

Posted November 21
I can truly trace back the best moments of my life to coffee (not as sad as it sounds) and I live in the coffee capital of Australia so your words are heretical to me. But I will forgive this obvious character flaw in favour of more flawed characters.

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted November 21
A bunch of us (half a dozen) got together at work a couple years back and bought a De Longhi machine that uses nespresso pods. We buy the pods in bulk (multiple flavours and don't have to pay freight). The response was so good that our original investment was repaid in about six months.

It's still going. We charge $1 per pod (including milk and sugar) and that seems to work for us (iirc our average price per pod is about 87c and we run at least a dozen different flavours/strengths).

Some of us have referred to it as the only successful project our IT group has delivered in the past few years. :)

Unfortunately, I can't get one for home as SWMBO doesn't like the taste of the pods. :(

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pi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 21
What I would do is encourage your young adult offspring into starting their career at nespresso. I suppose they give all of those free pods (hundreds a month) so that their employees become addicted to the coffee, but as a parent of said offspring, the coffee is varied and plentiful.

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted November 21
We have a commercial Nespresso machine at my new workplace (we got moved here a month ago). Makes decent coffee, better than the instant stuff, and cheaper than buying as its free! Problem is, whoever is responsible for ordering the pods is a bit slack, and we run out regularly. I thought I'd just buy my own private stock....but nooooo. The Nespresso shop near home informs me the commercial machine pods (which look sort of like a foil wrapped biscuit) can't be bought in a shop, only ordered from the manufacturer...argh!

So just nick a handful of the pods when they come in and keep them in my desk drawer.

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Dirk reckons...

Posted November 30
It seems you can't stay of the Burger for a week, and people are starting to talk jibberish.

I just want to point to this baby, to show you your errant ways:

http://www.koffiediscounter.nl/img/eda1541c-1761-48c6-a075-fba9d456e50a/saeco-moltio-hd8769.jpg?w=&h=&q=80

Dave W reckons...

Posted December 1
Agreed. I think I have the previous model in this range. It is the duck's nuts.

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