San Francisco: Nespresso Boutique Bar

Annie Chang/Staff

My parents bought a Nespresso machine a couple of years ago. The coffee is packed into small capsules, and the capsules come in a variety of 16 different flavors, which are called Grand Crus. The grand crus have exotic names, ranging from a lighter Cosi to a stronger and darker Arpeggio. I could never imagine that espresso from a normal household machine could be so delicious. Before winter break, I had narrowed my favorites down to a well-balanced Livanto and a lighter Volutto. Then, during break, I tried the darker and stronger Ristretto and immediately fell in love with it. Ever since, I knew it was an espresso match made in heaven.

In January, I found Nespresso Boutique Bar in San Francisco near Union Square. Housed in an expensive area of San Francisco, the sleek, modern and classy design of the store created quite a trendy vibe with its simple lines. Being Nespresso, however, the delicious coffee and treats did not come at an affordable price. I ordered a Ristretto latte ($6.50) and a rosabaya de Colombia creme brulee ($8), which cost the same as all of their other desserts. The 16 capsule flavors can be applied to any type of coffee, from macchiatos to espressos. The menu also recommends which Grand Cru goes best with which dessert, but I just wanted the Ristretto.

The Ristretto came, I took a sip and closed my eyes in awe, allowing the flavors to envelop my taste buds. It was the perfect cup. Ristretto is a blend of South American and East African Arabicas with a subtle fruity note. This flavor is the most intense of the 16 and is rated a 10 on a scale from one to 10. The beans for Ristretto are roasted separately and slowly to bring out the fruity, acidic and roasted notes; it reminded me of the pure, rich and full-bodied Italian coffee. Nespresso’s website describes Ristretto as “strong roasted notes softened by notes of chocolate (with a) subtle contrast between strength and bitterness, acidic and fruity notes.” For me, Nespresso is a dream come true because the coffee remains the star of the show instead of being overpowered by milk or other flavorings.

Pairing the coffee with a rosabaya de Colombia creme brulee was also perfect. Rosabaya de Colombia is one of the Grand Crus, so the dessert has a unique coffee flavor. The creme brulee came with a chocolate mousse on the side and three pieces of almond wafers. The wafers were subtly nutty, but I couldn’t have known that it was almond if had I not been told. The chocolate mousse was not too sugary or too rich but instead sided more in the category of dark chocolate with a slight hint of milk chocolate. The deeper and darker flavor of the mousse combined with the Ristretto produced a beautiful dark blend of chocolate and coffee. The creme brulee was a little milkier and sweeter than the Ristretto because the coffee in the dessert was not as intense. The top layer of the creme brulee was covered with a thin layer of brown sugar, which produced a darker and slightly burnt acidic taste to balance the sweetness. The combination reminded me of a latte with a bit of caramel.

This cafe is definitely a place for a high-end coffee experience with the quality to match. The store decor embodies the feel of the coffee; whenever I drink it, I think of a classy afternoon in a fashionable Italian cafe. Nespresso keeps me loyal to truly delicious coffee in general and to espresso in particular. I will definitely be back for more.

Nespresso Boutique Bar is located at 90 Grant Ave., San Francisco, CA 94108.