New York Stories: The Worst $5.34 Espresso I Ever Had

SoHo, Manhattan:

Really, you’re just kind of wandering down the street. There’s an informality of motion one can bluster with in New York, this kind of hip-swinging bipedal who-cares strut that occurs for most of us only when there are no pressing deadlines, no tasks or destinations in mind other than to enjoy one of those picturesque city-casual afternoon constitutionals. Say you had to go to the West Village for something, a concert perhaps, getting on and off at the Spring Street subway stop and walking…and now you have an hour or so to kill before meeting up with your friend back in Brooklyn, and so there you are, wandering through the heart of SoHo and the shopping canyons of Spring Street, gawking and surely being gawked at (in the grand cyclical tradition of urban gawking) as you observe the literally jaw-dropping amount of sheer chic commerce around you, co-mingling with crowds of gift bag mad touristas and fashion drones, cigarette smoking boutique break-takers, 15 girls from Jersey waiting in line outside the Dior store (part of “Lydia’s Sex And The City Bachelorette Weekend!”, according to their matching t-shirts), gazillionaire German uber-tourists with small, blonde, histrionically weeping children, lovely female mirages in jesuschristyellow pumps and beetleshell black sunglasses, gaunt and angular model men in the plainest of plain white cottons, Sabrett’s slingers, Japanese teenagers, skateboarding tweens, chihuahuas, pugs, and other poseable microdogs, construction crews, and shops shops shops, SoHo shops like cave paintings on the canyon walls of Spring Street. The whole thing is a real circus maximus, and there you are, just kind of wandering through …

…until you stumble upon a cafe like no other, gleaming there in the sun, unassuming from the outside, but inside, an outer space trans-galactic Pod Palace fit for a sheik, replete with doormen, bodyguards, a tie-clad fleet of immaculate and regimented servers, high butt-sculpting leather bar seats positioned amongst elaborate flowers on an even more elaborate curving bar, and metal pods of freeze-dried coffee in every imaginable hue. Welcome to the “Nespresso Club” on Mercer and Prince Street in SoHo, where an iced cappuccino is $6.50 before tax and tip, and the aluminum Nespresso pod is worshiped as more than just a coffee delivery device: it is an objet d’art.

To clarify, in no way do we mean that $6.50 is too much to pay for a coffee. Indeed, many people far more learned than this website have stated again and again that gradual price increases are an unavoidable part of making the specialty coffee industry sustainable. It’s just so strange to have it happen here, in the Pod Palace, where you’re invited to buy a “grand cru box” of aluminum capsules at $115 a pop, to go along with Nespresso’s proprietary aluminum freeze-dried extractor machine that guarantees a “perfect shot every time”. It looks like the toaster from Elroy Jetson’s dorm room. The Pod Palace is a Jetson’s Toaster Palace too, come to think of it, with hundreds of these devices gleaming and glinting on display with every visual glance of the eye, even as you wind your way up the Pod Palace’s dizzying curved staircase.

Your espresso will cost you $4.34 (and you tip a dollar), making it $5.34 total. The shot tastes simultaneously too cold (the crema) and too hot (everything past the second sip). To put it in the popular parlance, this espresso has notes of freeze dried mass produced mystery pre-grind and a long smooth finish of marvel. It tastes exactly like what it is, which is really pretty expensive espresso made from an aluminum container, served in lovely cupware accompanied by a single, tiny, pre-packed sugar tubelette. The aluminum cups lock in the flavor! There’s a countless rainbow of origins to choose from! Have yours with a macaroon, or any other pastry from their Romanovian assortment of petite pasissieres, montelimars, flans, cakes, cups, raspberry delights, joy-joys, upside down red velvet mousses, whoopie pies, biscotti delights, torts, tarts, and great teetering tiramisus.

The bodyguard at the door nods as you leave. It’s the worst $5.34 espresso you’ve ever had, at this bewilderingly opulent Pod Palace, and yet…past the hulking doorman, out into the throng crush of the beautiful SoHo masses, there’s a question worth asking…is it any stranger than the scene outside?


  1. says

    I can’t wait for the United States to plunge into depression so that you can all quickly die off (and the more useless humans will{which is the majority of the united states})
    You guys are so incredibly wasteful and incumbent to the rest of the world. Good luck surviving the massacre!

    • Taylor says

      Hey ol’ intelligent one, did you know that Nespresso is nearly unknown in the USA but ubiquitous in Europe? Where was it developed, market-tested and market proven? Europe (your land perhaps?). Sure, it’s mostly Euro women salivating over George Clooney in TV and magazine ads, but it’s still in a lot more European homes and offices than you’d like to admit (since you like to think of your continent as not wasteful, your land totally rejects Ikea and you have never seen excessive packaging at your supermarkets, right?). I won’t argue with the fact that Americans are extremely wasteful, but I think your comments is highly misplaced.

      • says

        What makes you think I’m from Europe? Is that the first place you can think of when you see the phrase “hates USA”?
        You realize Europe is a huge continent spanning tons of countries of varying political atmospheres? Not a single one of which I’ve been to. So fuck Europe too.
        Tell me what the capitol of Canada is without google. Toronto right? Or was it Montreal?
        So besides all of that, Not once did I critisize Nespresso (which is terrible coffee compared to 49th parallel) until now. It’s terrible coffee. I am critisizing an entire country which has decadently spent it’s way down into a looming grave.
        Yes my comment was probably misplaced and I’m a bitter asshole who actually has to work hard for money, and doesn’t take on any debt. Granted. I probably wouldn’t have said anything if the author didn’t have such pretentious poise. It irked me enough to lash out, and also realize once again how happy it makes me to see the United States of America failing so miserably.
        You know what I say when people try to pay for coffee with american money in my cafe? “Sorry, I don’t accept fake money”

  2. says

    Nicely done. Holding it to the same standards we hold every other place to is the only way to fairly evaluate something like this.

    All of which says nothing of how the whole system was designed as if by a mad scientist hell bent on maximizing the amount of materials strip-mined from the earth, processed with fossil fuels, packaged, and tossed aside with every coffee serving.

  3. AndyS says

    Nicely written post! Now I’m dying to make the trip down, wriggle through the wall of blonde and auburn tourist flesh, mosey up to one of those high butt-sculpting leather bar seats, and inhale a delicate Nespresso from a gorgeous pastel-hued pod — all while chatting up George Clooney….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *