Nespresso Boutique & Bar

Overall Rating: 6.650


Address: 90 Grant Ave.
Cross Street(s): Geary St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94108
Neighborhood: Union Square
Phone: 415.471.5935
Hours: M-F 9am-8pm; Sa-Su 9am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 6.80
Barista: 6
Savvy: 6
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: Nespresso
Coffee Rating: 6.50
Aroma: 6
Body: 6
Brightness: 6
Crema: 7
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: 0.5
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Nespresso
Cup Manufacturer: Other Ceramic
Price: $4.00
Last Update: 08/28/2013
First Reviewed: 08/28/2013
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

Review
Opening in Nov 2012, this international chain of NestlÚ-owned boutiques takes up a prime commercial real estate corner near SF's Union Square. There's a ridiculous amount of pomp and pretense here for what amounts to be pre-ground pod coffee that's been oxidizing for weeks after roasting. Walk inside, and you can tell the management has been taking notes from their favorite Apple stores. There are servants in black suits that talk about you "being a member" -- it all feels a bit like Scientology meets an aspirational Starbucks. They have many cream-colored leather lounge chairs paired at faux wooden-top tables, sofas, long white countertops with iPad displays (surprised?) and white metal stools. There's also a few leather stools at the front service counter, behind which the staff use a number of their plastic Nespresso home espresso machines to produce the retail coffee beverages here. Although there are two dedicated Astra machines (made of metal even) for frothing milk. The air is filled with lounge music circa 2001, and downstairs is their "boutique" -- or showroom for machines and member-purchased coffee pods. Although they offer some food items and pairings, the focus is on their coffee product line. Ordering their "Ristretto" shot (note the use of capitalization) for a ridiculous $4 ($5 for doubles), they insert one of their pods into a $200 Nespresso U home machine -- with the pump making that cheap buzzing sound of an aerating home aquarium. It's all a bit too incongruous for the fašade they promote. The resulting shot lacks much aroma, but it has a decent-looking, even, medium brown crema. The flavor is blended well and is surprisingly mellow for a supposed "ristretto": mild spices and tepid herbal notes. But everything about the shot is tepid: a light and vapid body, and a flavor that misses the mark on any kind of character. Which is why Nespresso is coffee's version of farmed salmon. Served in Nespresso cups with designer spoons and sugar.