I was making a Nespresso coffee in the office the other day and realised just how much beauty, and simplicity there was in the Nespresso machine.  They made a complex process into a simple and stylish product.
We all love our coffees and the morning coffee has become a ritual.  And we will all have our favourite brand and barista (Allpress for me).  However we also know that we can get a very inconstant coffee from café to café, the experience and the taste can range from 5/10 to a 10/10.  This is because making a good coffee is a hard and a specialised skill with a number of interdependent steps.  If you try to do this at home it is much harder to get consistently good coffee.  The reason for this making is a coffee is quite a complex process and there are a lot of steps and factors that need to work in concert to make the perfect brew.
Lets look at the steps of making a good coffee (by no means an exhaustive list or detailed manual!)
  • The Beans:  There are a number of choices with the beans and really it comes down to individual taste.  However the rule of thumb is the fresher the beans the better. At home when you don’t have a high turn over it is hard to keep your beans fresh.
  • The Grind:  This is hugely important as this and the tamp (below) determines how much flavour is extracted from the bean when a coffee is drawn. Too course and the water doesn’t get the right amount of flavour, too fine and there is an over extraction and therefore bitterness.  There are a number of things impacting the grind, the grinder, the freshness and type of beans and the humidity.
  • The Tamp:  This is getting the right amount of pressure into the coffee grinds when putting the coffee into the basket.  The pressure on the tamp has a similar impact on the coffee as the grind, in terms of allowing the right amount of water to extract the flavour.  The ideal is to draw an espresso over 27 seconds.
  • Temperature and Pressure:  As with the grind and tamp, getting this right is to ensure that the right amount of flavour is extracted from the grind.  Any variants in temperature and flow (pressure) will impact the taste.
  • Milk: Using the steam wand and ensuring that you stretch and froth the milk to the right temperature and consistency for your coffee, The challenge here is to not burn the milk.
  • Pour:  Bringing it all together, depending on the style the right proportion of espresso to milk, and milk to froth.
Nespresso has managed to productise and simplify this process to allow you to make a consistent coffee time after time, and in my opinion while not as good as the best barista, but very consistent and much better than the worst – you get at 7/10 every time.
Their design and operation is beautifully designed and simple to use.
  • Beans, Grind and Tamp: Nespresso have taken care of this by using a pod system.  They have various flavours of beans that are pre-ground, sealed and tamped into the pod at the factory.  Thereby ensuring freshness, and consistency of all of these factors.
  • Temperature and Pressure:  This is all handled with the single push of a button.  You load the pod which is then punctured and once the machine is at the right temperature it draws the shot at a consistent pressure and temperature.
  • Milk:  Again they have productised this process,  you simply add milk and push one button,  the frother heats and whisks the milk to a consistent temperature and silkiness
  • Pour:  They do leave this up to you.
There are another couple other of things to love about this product.
The pricing for capsules is strategically priced as a premium to other forms of in home coffee but below café coffee.  They have built an annuity business model, once you have committed purchasing the machine you have committed to the eco system and ongoing purchase of capsules.  In fact they fully understand this and use incentives and pricing discrimination to maximise uptake of the machines and rewarding only those customers that require a discount to get one, through the cash back mechanism.
Nespresso have managed to productise this process.  They have made specialised complex process, made it repeatable and so you are delivered a consistent coffee every time.


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