Earlier this year, New York was rocked by the opening of Pop-Tarts World in Times Square, an interactive retail space and café revolving around the beloved breakfast pastry brand. Today, NYC gets a similarly flashy retail/restaurant complex in Nespresso SoHo Boutique, a huge bi-level space devoted to the instant espresso that’s already taken much of Europe by storm. The boutique sports a 30 seat restaurant, a coffee bar, and a fancy emporium of coffee-related home goods and services, all of which revolve around the compact push-button coffee machines that are displayed in various shapes, sizes and colors throughout the space. Even at the cafe in the front of the store, the baristas use these instant coffee machines (and there's no coffee to go!).
So, what about those machines? Nespresso offers 16 types of coffee pods, or “Grand Crus,” to put in them. None of these are "flavored," but each of them has a different “intensity.” We sampled a few different shots at a press preview, they were all much better than we expected. None were bitter and every shot had a good coffee flavor and a nice crema on top. You wouldn't mistake it for Blue Bottle, but the product is a lot better than whatever comes out of the Green Mountain machine in the office kitchen.
Some of the pricier machines, meant for commercial restaurant and office use, are even enabled with technology that allows employees to swipe a coffee debit card and receive a pod of their choice for insertion into the brewing device. Here's a tip: if you want to try the Nespresso coffee, you can skip the cafe and pull your own push-button shot from this machine, for free.
Although this isn’t the first Nespresso shop/café in the country (there are much smaller versions in a few Bloomingdales' across the country, and one other proper Boutique in Miami), the space seems designed to be the US flagship store. As for the food, it’s mostly light European café fare, salads and small plates are $9, sandwiches and entrees are $17. After some preview dinners and events last week, the full Boutique opens today. Do send any early reports this way.