Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coffee hardware and software

Travelling internationally over the years I have been noticing the steady and seemingly unrelenting capture of the in-room coffee facilities in hotels by Nespresso. Coffee is big business; I guess I don’t have to tell you that. You have seen the rash of Costa, Nero, Starbucks, and Cafe Coffee Day et al not only in India but globally.

If you want to make serious coffee at home you have to make a big decision. Cheap hardware and expensive software or expensive hardware and cheap software. Option 1 is you buy what is known as a super automatic coffee machine in which you add any coffee bean of your choice and get a good cup of coffee. The machine [hardware] is expensive with costs running from INR 60000 upwards and coffee beans being cheap at about INR 450 a kg. Or you buy a cheap machine and then get tied into using dedicated coffee pods that cost up to INR 50 a cup. Nespresso has found this sweet spot. Its sells cheap coffee machines which work only, yes only with Nespresso pods which cost INR 25 per pod from a dedicated Nespresso retailer in France. The coffee is no doubt good.

An analogy can be drawn to the computer printer industry. You can buy a cheap ink jet printer at less than INR 5,000 and spend INR 1,000 on every fresh cartridge. Or you could buy an expensive Laserjet machine costing upwards from 15,000 and spend less relatively on a cartridge which prints more than a normal inkjet.  Plus you are tied in for life. A Cannon machine will not accept HP cartridges and so on and so forth.

It is the same with the cheap hardware expensife software machines. You have multiple systems, Nestle has Nespresso with Nespresso capsules, Illy uses ESE [Easy Serving Espresso] pads which don’t work anywhere else, there is another system called Tassimo, yet another simply called Coffee Pods. None of these are compatible with the other. Over the years, primarily because it gives you the best results and is virtually foolproof to use Nespresso has become huge. To make matters worse and more complicated Nespresso uses two types of coffee dispensers, a capsule and a pod. 

Needless to say ordinary coffee beans cost far less than any of these pods, but to get a decent cup out of them takes some doing. This is why you require heftier machines.

So, in the good old days we had a kettle in the room along with packets of Nescafe. We boiled water and made instant coffee and poured in some milk and sugar. Today this is gone. Most hotels offering in-room coffee facilities give you a Nespresso Machine and some pods. No one drinks milk anymore as everyone is either dieting or is lactose intolerant so you get n milk in the room. Plus drinking an Espresso is just so much more cool, instant is yuck, we say after having drunk it for years.

This is where the hotels play games. They may either give you an unlimited number of pods or say 2 pods a day or the cheap bastards give you 2 pods a stay. The rest you buy at a huge mark up – 500%. How do I know all this? Because the cheap bastards in the hotel we are staying at charge EUR 16 for 10 pods of Nespresso over the 2 they give you free. A Nespresso shop on Champs Elysees sells the same pods at EUR 3.5 for 10. We had to go and buy ours today or pay the cheap bastard hotel lots of money for the pods.

No comments:

Post a Comment