Have I ever thought of drinking coffee from a glass?
Have I ever thought of drinking coffee from a glass? Well, yes – we often do in Italy. However, drinking coffee from a wine glass-like vessel, produced by master glass-makers Riedel no less, that is a new thing for sure. Riedel have worked for a couple of years on developing two elegant glasses which enhance the experience of drinking coffee.
Like a fine wine, coffee benefits from being enjoyed from a perfectly designed vessel, to maximise aroma and taste. Combine that with a rare and elegant Nespresso Special Reserve Grand Cru, and a new coffee experience is born.
I was extremely lucky to be invited to Vienna to the launch event of such glasses, in conjunction with the launch of Nespresso’s latest Special Reserve (their first in two years), called Maragogype, from the little known coffee bean of the same name.
Welcome to Vienna
As soon as we arrived in Vienna at the pretty cool Ruby Sofie hotel, we were whisked in a whirlwind series of masterclasses, each focusing on a different angle of the coffee drinking experience, and as usual with Nespresso, the entire event was very cleverly put together with the right amount of product tasting, fun and knowledge sharing and smoothly organised, with beautifully detailed touches along the way.
Introducing the wine glass – wine & coffee
The first session I attended was co-run by Nespresso Sensory Manager Edouard Thomas and World’s Best Sommelier 2013 Paolo Basso. They presented an interesting pairing, red wine and coffee and how they came to pick the blends they each picked, and where the similarities lie in the two drinks. I particularly enjoyed the pairing of a Nuits St Georges, an elegant medium bodied red, with Dulcao, Nespresso single origin from Brazil, its softness suggesting notes of hazelnut and light caramel.
It’s all about the glass: Riedel
The second masterclass we attended was held by Karsten Ranitzsch, Nespresso Head of Coffee and herr Riedel himself, and the two together were not only really entertaining, but also taught us a few interesting skills.
Tasting in a wine glass
For example, we tasted good old plain water from three differently shaped red wine glasses and it was a revelation to understand how each shape and different diameter allows the water (and therefore the wine) to reach different areas of one’s palate. An eye opener for a non expert like me.
The smell and taste altered between the two glasses
I think we all understood the rationale behind developing the two coffee glasses, especially when we got to taste two coffee crus in each of them and realised how the smell and taste altered between the two glasses.
Each cru to its own vessel, with the stronger crus (intensity 6+ eg Kazaar) preferring the smaller diameter glass and viceversa.
In the end, it’s all about physics and how the molecule of the glass interact with the organolectic properties of the liquid. Fascinating. The glasses themselves are at first a little awkward: heavy, thick base, short and slim stem and wine-like cup. Yet they are a pleasure to hold and convey flavours and aroma beautifully.
|Maragogype beans, to the right – normal beans to the left|
We then moved on to the final masterclass of the afternoon, which focused on the Maragogype Special Reserve itself, and was run by Alexis Rodriguez, Nespresso Green Coffee Quality & Development Manager. He went through the story of the beans, where it was first identified, its characteristics and where the Nespresso beans have been selected (paradoxically, not from Brazil but from Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
These trees are taller, have less flowers and their beans are 40% bigger than the average coffee bean. The cru is only available for a limited amount of time, given its rarity and complexity.
The roasting process was designed to safeguard the delicate taste of this outsized, porous, Arabica bean. This balanced, mild cup is tempered with refined acidity; the giant, green coffee beans are roasted to just the right level that their unique attributes are enhanced and not dominated by roast.*
Ceramic vs glass
We tasted the coffee in a ceramic cup and in a Riedel glass, and appreciated how different it was. In the porcelain the aroma lingered longer and felt more pleasant: overall it was sweet on the palate, had subtle cereal notes with a hint of acidity. It is one particular cru that works well with milk.
Coffee & cake
After the final masterclass we made our way to Café Central, a traditional Viennese coffee house, where we tasted a Viennese coffee and of course, Strudel, and then we experienced possibly the weirdest session, whereby we listened to brief compositions created by Laurent Assoulen, a French composer to match each of the Nespresso crus.
I must admit, I am not sure I really felt the connection yet it is interesting to see how Nespresso is open to enhancing the coffee drinking by extremely creative ideas: involving your imagination while drinking a cup makes you think more about the coffee itself, for sure.
|When in Vienna…|
After a quick walk through Vienna’s centre, we returned to the hotel to get changed and have an amazing dinner by 2 Michelin Star Austrian Chef Thomas Dorfer.
After dinner, we all sat mesmerized as a local ‘glass’ musician played the Maragogype symphony using Riedel glasses with different amount of water in them. It was pure beauty, and really an amazing way to end such a full, fun and thought provoking day.
|Stunning set up for dinner – Photo by Nespresso|
The Reveal Collection is available from 28th October in a set of two, with a choice of Intense or Mild glasses, priced from £28.
The Special Reserve Maragogype Grand Cru will be available for a limited period from 28th October for £10 per sleeve.
Thank you Weber Shandwick and Nespresso for inviting me to such a special event. Quotes from Press information pack. Opinions are my own, I received no compensation to write this post.Disclaimer: I no longer endorse Nespresso products due to the impact the capsules have on the environment; I am now more informed and no longer buy aluminium pods, preferring compostable compatible pods by independent coffee roasters. I am however grateful to Nespresso for inviting me to their events in the past and introducing me to the brand.