The ribbon cutting was led by (from left): Novateur Coffee Concepts managing director Patrick Pesengco, Nespresso head of Asia Renaud Tinel, Nestle Philippines CEO Jacque Reber and Swiss Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Mathias Domenig. Photos by Bening Batuigas

Nespresso’s Boutique is Suave and Sophisticated (just like George Clooney)
THE X-PAT FILES - Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - February 8, 2018 - 12:00am

George Clooney made a special appearance at the official ribbon-cutting for the recently opened Nespresso Boutique at Power Plant.

Well, sort of: Clooney’s voice was heard on a video outlining Nespresso’s sustainability commitment to 70,000 farmers around the world.

“He’s more than just a brand ambassador,” noted Nespresso CEO for Asia Renaud Tinel, in town to officially launch Manila’s first branch. “George is a real partner.” Tinel was at the upscale boutique in Power Plant’s R1 wing along with local partner, Novateur Coffee Concepts managing director Patrick Pesengco.

We all know Clooney is the perfect Nespresso brand spokesman: suave, sophisticated, socially conscious. You could say the same for the sleek Nespresso experience, at least according to Tinel.

“The whole idea behind Nespresso was very simple, but a very revolutionary one: the idea of creating a system that would give you an ultimate coffee experience, like a skilled barista, at home, every time, everywhere.”

It began in 1976 with Swiss Eric Favre’s patented invention of a sealed-capsule system for making coffee. Now Nespresso holds about 1,700 patents (with more to come) and its coffee system is available around the world, sustainably sourcing coffee from 70,000 farmers.

Having entered Manila’s market last August with a rollout of Grand Crus and machines, the new boutique opened Dec. 31 at Power Plant’s new wing. It’s a warm, modern place with dark wood interiors (the better to suggest dark, rich coffee) set off by bright colors and a separate Tasting Area, Machine Gallery and Accessories Collection. Then there’s the colorful Coffee Wall of boxed capsules — a global design feature.

 

 

 

For real coffee connoisseurs, there are special Reveal Glasses sold — snifters to allow you to better sample the aroma of Grand Cru coffees. If you don’t know which of Nespresso’s 24 Grand Crus meets your taste, baristas are ready to enlighten you, and offer free tastings.

Contrary to my first impression that Nespresso gained its popularity through hotels and restaurants, Tinel explained it all started with the desire to bring an Italian barista experience into people’s homes: a foolproof method to make the perfect cup of coffee, sealed in aluminum that will never lose its flavor.

Now, it’s not only available in hotels and local offices (the displayed corporate machines, including the handsome and heavy-duty Aguila 220, will make any coffee lover drool), but designed for first condo owners and millennials who can start out with cute Nespresso machines like the Essenza that won’t break the bank. 

“Yes, it’s true, I think it’s increasingly the younger generation,” says Tinel. “Actually, there’s a difference between Asia and what we see in Europe, where people are a bit more preset in their ways. Asia is more adventurous; it’s a younger generation now drinking coffee. They’re more curious, they want to know where the coffee is coming from. And we see this in our machine sales. Typically, the young generation buy their first coffee machine with us.”

That budding interest in fair-trade origins is met by Nespresso’s AAA Sustainable Quality Program, enlisting 300 agronomists around the world to work directly with 70,000 coffee farmers. Launched in 2003 in collaboration with The Rainforest Alliance, the program helps improve the yield and quality of harvests while improving livelihoods of farmers and their communities. It’s an integrated model, says Tinel: “Basically from farm to cup.”

Another thing Nespresso has made good on is recycling: with millions of spent capsules expelled from machines every day, it only makes sense to recycle them. Aluminum is “infinitely recyclable,” according to Tinel, and Nespresso’s global program encourages customers to return used capsules to the boutique — yes, even at Power Plant’s branch — so they can be sent out for processing. The coffee grounds are reused for fertilizer; the old capsules smelted and repackaged again and again.

I ask about the possibility of iced drinks or food becoming part of the boutique mix, and Nespresso’s CEO is doubtful: “No, I think we will concentrate on coffee. Coffee is what we do; consumer pleasure is why we do it.” The emphasis on an integrated model reminds me of Steve Jobs’ Apple: seeking its own path to innovation, rather than adopting outside trends.

Once again I return to Clooney, who narrates a video during the boutique launch, explaining the company’s global commitment to farmers. It’s not just talk: Clooney has been very outspoken about war-torn Darfur, Sudan, where politicians are growing rich from an ongoing war. Allowing coffee growers to break the cycle and sell directly to Nespresso must help.

“I think George is a fantastic ambassador because he represents the sophistication, the elegance of the brand,” Tinel says. “He also happens to be a real Nespresso fan. So beyond the image of Nespresso, he supports our sustainable program, and is involved, as you know, in Darfur. Nespresso was the first company in the world to try to create a coffee industry out of South Sudan, to help this country get out of what is currently still a war-torn region. So the partnership is a very real one.”

Later, the boutique held a special event where, in addition to Tinel and Pesengco, regional head of B2C Commercial Lai Ching Kok, Asia e-commerce director Aurelie Batmalle, regional marketing manager Eliz Tan, regional sales and marketing executive Pei Hua Koh and regional TQM manager Simon Gigandet and guests were greeted with a red carpet entrance, star-studded performances by world-class soprano Rachelle Gerodias and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, and special fare prepared by Cibo chef Margarita Fores while sipping Nespresso Sunrise, a special coffee cocktail recipe.

There it is. Good taste in brand ambassadors, matched with great taste in coffee. What else can you ask for?

* * *

In the Philippines, Nespresso is exclusively distributed by Novateur Coffee Concepts Inc. For more information, contact Melissa Valdez (mailto:mvaldez@novateur.ph) or Mia Silva (mailto:msilva@novateur.ph).

NESPRESSO’S BOUTIQUE
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