Frederic Levy, Rada Katz, Sonya Moledetskaya, Willie Brown
After dipping their espresso spoons into San Francisco’s coffee culture with a small boutique in Bloomingdales Nespresso has gone full force with their first large boutique in California. The 7,400 square foot two-level space on Grant Street was designed by Italian architect Aldo Parisotto and Futurebrand Paris. The generous and open space with jewel-like pods in rainbow colors and stylish machines displayed like pieces of art exudes the kind of luxury that is both inviting and sensuous. Videos of Nespresso’s captivating commercials featuring Penelope Cruz play on large screens, and the product itself becomes video art along the staircase connecting the two levels.
The interactive ground floor boasts a welcome area, a coffee bar and lounge, info centers like the N Pad Bar with iPads loaded with brand information and the Discovery Ring, a sort of Nespresso library.
The lower level contains the stores shopping area with a tasting bar that allows customers to test the machines and sample the various coffees and the self-selection room for serious club members who know what they want and need to get in and out quickly when running out of their most coveted pods. It is fast and easy: pull your favorite flavors from display walls that look like colorful cosmetic displays, place them in bag and take them to the self-check-out, scan your Club Member N Pass Card, your selections are recorded and your account is charged. Here customers can also return empty capsules for recycling.
Whether you want to linger in the lounge and nibble on a gourmet menu and try all their various Grand Crus selections, made from only the top 20% of the finest single origin gourmet coffee, or restock on your favorites as quickly as you sip a ristretto, Nespresso has got you covered.
Coffee station on lower level
Although open since November Nespresso only recently hosted their grand opening party. Nespresso’s chairman Patrice Bula and Nespresso USA President Frederic Levy served up a variety of coffees long past dinner time, Champagne cocktails with deliciously crunchy espresso caviar thanks to molecular gastronomy, and an elegant buffet spread provided by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering.
The combination made for a lively crowd discussing the local coffee culture, debating over preferred flavor profiles, comparing brands of machines, and even sparking some serious challenges between coffee aficionados. That is what coffee-spiked Champagne and espresso can do after 8:00 PM. Among the guests were American’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay, former Mayor Willie Brown and Sonya Molodetskaya, Lisa and John Grotts, Dr. Clara Shayevich, Bahya Murad, Jorge Maumer, Karen Caldwell, Dr. Jordan Deschamps-Braly, Marybeth La Motte, Beth Schnitzer, Ellian Raffoul and Michael Tal.
Nespresso sales associate explaining the use of a machine
Nespresso also beat out Starbucks and Pete’s as the sponsor for the America’s Cup, the perfect partner for San Francisco’s upcoming premiere sporting event driven by speed and built on style.
“We are proud to be supporting such a prestigious and exciting event,” said Patrice Bula, “Like the teams competing with cutting-edge technology in this ultimate sailing challenge, we strive for excellence. This partnership gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase Nespresso on a global stage.”
No doubt Nespresso is the chicest and sexiest coffee brand around, and it is finding a welcoming home in San Francisco. In a city that really knows about coffee there may be purists who even at home aim at being their own barista, but for those who are looking for a cup of superior coffee that is easy to make with stylish and space-saving machines requiring little cleaning and maintenance, this is the brand for them.
I am certain the opening has won Nespresso many new beyond Union Square. Jeweler Michael Tal confided that the lounge has become his office away from his office. I am sure I will cross paths with other familiar faces when returning for a grilled cheese sandwich or to replenish pods for my chartreuse space-saving Pixie.