What use is there for decaf? Nespresso targeting the caffeine wary (and office psychopaths)

Nespresso has launched three new decaf capsules.

Nespresso has launched three new decaf capsules.

What use is there for decaf? The office psychopath would say that decaf makes for a great piece of workplace chicanery. Gradually switch out the regular coffee for decaf over a period of weeks, weening everybody off their addiction, and then, once everyone is free and clear, revert to the regular coffee so everyone is suddenly totally wired. Apparently it makes for great sport.

Of course, for this to work, one’s colleagues must be fooled into the thinking the decaf is regular coffee and, as we all know, decaf coffee tastes revolting. A recent survey by Jigsaw Research revealed that 82 per cent of Australian coffee drinkers “don’t believe decaf coffee tastes as good as regular coffee”, and the only surprising thing about that stat is that it’s not higher. There’s always been a suspicion that coffee purveyors aren’t really trying with their decaf ranges; just phoning it in to tick a box.

It is in this environment that Nespresso is trying to change perceptions regarding decaf coffee. The Swiss capsule coffee company sees an opportunity to properly cater to those avoiding caffeine — for health, social or moral reasons — in order to expand machine penetration and grow coffee sales.

Nicole Parker, Nespresso Australia marketing manager, tells me there are two ways to decaffeinate coffee, both occurring before the green bean is roasted. The first uses water to dissolve the caffeine in the the coffee bean gradually. The second uses liquid carbon dioxide to draw out the caffeine while the unroasted coffee soaks in water.

“Both these methods are completely safe for coffee drinkers,” Parker said. “The processes respect the environment and coffee bean’s true nature, allowing Nespresso to maintain the strength, variety and richness of its aromas for consumers.”

Nespresso is rebooting its decaf range in 2015 to mirror flavours from its regular grand crus range. Instead of having unique decaf varieties, Nespresso is taking three popular flavours, decaffeinating them, and then marketing them as sharing the same sensory profiles. The new options are Arpeggio Decaffeinato, Volluto Decaffeinato (both RRP $7.30 for a sleeve of 10) and Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato (RRP $7.80 for a sleeve of 10).

Nespresso capsule coffee machines are marketed in partnership with Breville and De’Longhi.

Over at Lavazza, which markets the A Modo Mio system with machine partner Electrolux, there is one decaf variety, called Cremosamente Dek, which is available for RRP $11.99 for a pack of 16, which is roughly the same per unit price as Nespresso’s offer.

“This exceptional decaffeinated blend has a fragrance that is absolutely unmistakable,” a Lavazza spokesperson said. “A smooth and well balanced coffee that’s perfectly formed in every way, with a velvety crema. The authentic Italian espresso, naturally decaffeinated.”

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