Coffee and the workplace – team tasting with Nespresso

At a time when employees are working longer hours and feeling more stressed, new research shows just how much small perks play an important role in improving the daily work life of employees. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) UK workers[1] state that small perks in the office (such as high quality coffee, fresh fruit and snacks), are crucial to retaining good staff. 

I work in the City, for a fairly large corporate. We are surrounded by coffee chains, some better than others: we have Taylor Street Baristas just around the corner, but sadly I do not  like their antipodean coffee style. We have Manon and Ravello, more European in spirit but I do not actually enjoy their coffees either, nor sometimes, their attitude in the case of the former. If I have enough time for a longer walk, I go and grab a cappuccino in very Neapolitan Piada (who use Kimbo brand, the same used in my family) or the Venetian Enoteca where Illy is used. Both these places are to me, the best options around here and they are as independent as you can get. 
We also, of course, have plenty of Caffe’ Nero and Costa (including one within our own building) and the omnipresent Starbucks but I hardly ever enter those shops. Our regular is now perfectly located Apostrophe: they opened a nice branch just one minute walk from our front door. The coffee is decent, they do a coffee card to entice you to buy regularly (which I do) and have comfy chairs and tables for those work related chats that require some more privacy (relatively speaking). Unfortunately the independent coffee van across the road is not good at all – after a few well intended attempts to support him, I gave up. 

But what do we do when we have no time to walk outside? We have plenty of free coffee on offer on each of our floors. A ‘bean to cup’ machine which produces pretty horrible results, a LavazzaBlue machine which produces fairly terrible liquid for 50p. When I think about it, we all often talk about coffee one way or the other. Before a meeting, we need a coffee. On a Friday morning when the mood is somehow lighter, we go get a coffee. After a big lunch, we grab an espresso. Coffee is a big part of myself and my colleagues’ work day indeed. It made sense when I received an interesting research article from Weber Shandwick and Nespresso on the role that coffee plays for office workers:

The research, commissioned by Nespresso, reveals that coffee lovers expect quality coffee both at home and in their workplaces – even with a growing cafe culture in the UK, where quality coffee is not only more available but more in demand than ever. The recent research findings reinforce the UK as a nation of coffee connoisseurs, with more than one quarter (26%) of UK workers stating that they assess the quality of a company by the standard of coffee it provides. Could this mean coffee is the new business currency in Britain?

I know my manager likes Nespresso. I know we have some sneaky Nespresso machines in some of the floors. So I decided to start a Friday with a team coffee tasting session with a few of the Nespresso blends. What better way to end the work week (and pleasing the manager, which is always helpful?)

We had fun making the different coffees to the different tastes. My manager was the barista, we all were tasters. The blends we tried were Rosabaya from Colombia (intensity 6, Arabica beans); Vivalto Lungo, a blend from South America and East African Arabica beans (intensity 4); Indriya from India (Arabica with a hint of Robusta, intensity 10) and finally one of Nespresso most popular blend, Kazaar (Robusta and Arabica from South America and Central America, intensity 12). 

Opinions? Divided on some, in agreement on others. For example we all thought the Vivalto was possibly too weak for a pick me up of caffeine when drank long but when we made it short, it was loved by most. 

Ahhh, the joy of disposables

Rosabaya was the one that mostly divided opinions: some thought it smelt ‘vegetably / starchy’, however when drank with added sugar it didn’t feel as vegetably. Yet this was my manager’s favourite one. Indriya also saw some conflicting opinions: while some loved the aromas, almost like a tea, others found it a bit too bitter without enough body.  
Kazaar was, as expected, the pick of the team. A couple of the guys preferred it with milk, and really enjoyed it. It was also my favourite, drank with some brown sugar and short. 

We had a good team session over coffee, we had fun tasting the various blends and we have now decided that we’re going to invest in a Nespresso machine for the team!

Thanks Weber Shandwick and Nespresso for providing the tasting capsules.

Research was conducted by ComRes and commissioned by Nespresso.  For full research findings, please visit:   

[1] When used in this context staff/workers refer to UK workers surveyed across the following five sectors: Technology / IT; Creative/Communications; Financial; Legal; HR


  1. right_writes

    You needn’t have bothered….

    It’s not coffee!

    Whilst I can accept that as an Italian you like Kimbo or Illy coffee, indeed an espresso served from a hand lever in Naples is a real treat, and Kimbo works well, even though it isn’t top quality.

    But please, even if it is free, never try to tell people that Nespresso is coffee any more than Gold Blend is.

  2. Pasta Bites

    Thanks for accepting that as an italian I like Kimbo or Illy! FYI, I also like Passalacqua and Lunik. I accept your point of view too – but then I can’t brew my own stove moka in the office, nor I can use my home pressure coffee machine with my Kimbo grounds. Nespresso is a great alternative and very viable. Coffee snobs don’t need to drink it.

  3. Rosana

    I love your idea of team building around coffee tasting, free or not. I like Nespresso and Illy equally, I don’t know Kimbo etc as I live in the UK. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, like matey ‘right_writes’, even when they talk unrealistic bull.

    1. Pasta Bites

      Rosana, Kimbo is traditional neapolitan, fairly large brand but pretty good too. Coffee tasting was fun!

  4. Ray

    I love the idea of a coffee tasting team building exercise, and even though I live in the UK, I’d still love to try Kimbo coffee UK!

    1. Pasta Bites

      Thanks Ray – we have done some further tasting for team building (see a previous post on Fratelli Caffe’), and they work really well, whether is a quick, fun Nespresso in the office or a full on, 30 people after work event. Kimbo coffee is now available in a few places, other than Piada including Euphorium Bakery.

  5. Giovanni

    Hi, about Nespresso, from first of January we will launch a crowdfunding campaign based on idea is produce Nespresso compatible capsules using real artisan italian coffee made in little factories and completely biodegradable. Here you can find pre-launch page:
    Thank You

    1. pastabites (Post author)

      hi Giovanni, feel free to send me more info when you launch


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