The ever-deadly Irish Times Value for Money feature by Conor Pope featured Nespresso machines this week. I recently had the use of one, and think they’re an interesting topic for a discussion on ‘value’, as the whole concept strikes me as one of the most wasteful things I’ve ever seen, ever.
The three biggest issues for me regarding these Nespresso machines are the waste generated, the price of the coffee and the godawful pretension associated with the whole deal. Firstly the waste: every single cup of coffee that you make with a Nespresso uses a small aluminium capsule that cannot be added to your normal recycling, as there are coffee grounds trapped inside. Nestle have established collection points for these capsules, but will not share information on how many of the capsules are actually recycled – except for their results from Switzerland, which are extremely good. However, in Switzerland, people are fined for throwing away recyclables. As this article points out, people who use Nespressos do so for the convenience and so are probably less inclined to gather and send off their capsules for recycling.
As for the cost: you would never buy a car that only ran on a special petrol that you could only buy in one petrol station. Why, that would make you a chump. Yet the very popular Nespresso machines lock you into buying Nespresso capsules, which work out at approximately €74 per kilo. Compare this to Lavazza, another quality blend and my personal favourite coffee, which costs €16 for a kilo of ground, or €14 for a kilo of beans.
Finally (although not really, as you’ll see below) there is an entire aspirational, bourgeois, insufferable ‘lifestyle’ associated with the Nespresso brand. You can’t buy the pods in supermarkets; you either have to go online or visit the Nespresso counter in Brown Thomas. This place is like a last little enclave of Celtic Tiger obnoxiousness, with both the staff and customers making a ridiculous fuss about what is, essentially, Nescafe. It’s well worth a visit if you fancy a laugh, or possibly a cry at how ridiculous we are. You don’t have to just take my word for it – read this great piece by Charlie Brooker from a few years back, in which he deconstructs the ludicrous magazine sent to the Nespresso mailing list.
I realise I’m ranting now, so will just quickly wrap up by adding that Nespresso is owned by Nestle, and we all know about their evil empire. Also the brand does not have any Fairtrade blends, and the BT Nespresso counter guy LIED to my FACE about this when I went in there, saying firstly that they did, then when I asked why they didn’t have a Fairtrade mark, he said that they had their ‘own certification that was better than Fairtrade’. Suuuuuure, Nestle.
In the interest of balance, I will admit that the machines are quick and convenient (although making a better coffee with a cafetiere or stovetop pot takes about 5 mins) and the BT counter gives away free cups of coffee (if you can stomach all the other nonsense). I may have gone a bit mad, Ted, in my dislike of these stupid things.
So what do you think? Do you use a Nespresso? Is the convenience worth the evil? Comment below.