I walked into The Gardens Mall wondering where the new Nespresso boutique would be. As I was taking the escalator, a welcoming and bright facade stood out and sure enough, it was the boutique that I had been hearing so much about. Friends and acquaintances who had visited the store were quite amazed that so much effort had been put into the place.
Lucky me, the absolutely charming and knowledgeable Geoffrey Dalziel, the Business Development Manager of Nespresso Malaysia, was there to walk me through the boutique and later grant me an interview on any further questions I might have.
It felt as if I was walking into an ultra wonderful and exciting space when I stepped in. The colours were just so energising yet comforting and inviting in their own way. I didn’t know coffee capsules and coffee products could be displayed in such an arty yet practical manner. The wall with the different coloured coffee sleeves lined up to make it a unique colourscape first caught my eye and sure enough, our photographer thought it was one of the best spots to take some interesting and visually striking pictures too.
As he walked me through the spacious new concept boutique, a few things immediately drew me to them. Would you believe that there even are living coffee plants on display? It’s a magnificent effort on their part as I am sure it won’t be all that simple to take care of them. I couldn’t help but touch the leaves to make sure that they were real. Dalziel explained that they wanted their visitors to actually feel and know where their coffee came from. So, if you’re in the area and have always been a bit curious about the coffee plant, make sure you just stop by the boutique.
After making me a cup of coffee with milk and sugar, the perfect way I like it, we sat down for a chat. What Dalziel feels is special about the boutique is, “Those who come can learn about the brand themselves and also learn about it through the experience of the coffee specialist, tangibly understanding all the different elements of what the brand is.”
Something I learned from him was that the crema that forms on top of coffee contributes to the feel of the coffee once in the mouth and at Nespresso they see the crema as an integral part of the coffee drinking experience.
Adds Dalziel, “And when you add milk, the flavour notes start to change as well. People will say, ‘Can I try a Dulsao by itself as espresso and then with milk?’, as maybe at home they want to enjoy both. So they can really test and play around with what they want.”
I could see what he meant for the smell of coffee and the very inviting and conducive surroundings certainly made me feel like trying the different varieties and different ways of enjoying coffee.
On coffee culture, he shared, “What’s a great thing about coffee … and Nespresso is part of it … is that the overall industry is really evolving. The quality of coffee is becoming much higher, which is great, and the demands of consumers becoming much more stringent. People now know what a great coffee is, so if you want to be part of the industry, you need to be developing and offering a quality product. And sometimes this experience of the high quality coffee, people are much more willing to have a black coffee whether it is a Lungo or a long black as opposed to other recipes with different flavourings. That’s part of it.
“Of course, locally in Malaysia, we’re well aware that people very much like and enjoy their coffee recipes. Whether it is simple like a flat white, latte or cappuccino or sometimes more complex … and we do that time to time with Malaysia-inspired recipes. We work with local baristas to create unique offerings. People here like the surprise element.”
He explains further, “Coffee is much more than just a beverage to stimulate and wake you up at the start of the day. It’s a very important part of people’s day, in many cases, whether it is starting the day right or having a nice relaxing afternoon. You see on social media, ‘But, first, coffee! Nothing before coffee!’.” He feels it‘s an emotional product and I can’t help but agree with him.
One can easily see Dalziel’s passion for coffee as he speaks and one also cannot help but get caught up with his enthusiasm. When asked about the new boutique, his eyes light up and he says, “I am extremely proud to open the boutique, it’s an exciting milestone, something we have been looking forward to since we started. We’ve been excited about this boutique and my team has risen to the challenge wonderfully.”
He also shared that it was rewarding to see the response of their many loyal club members. “Everything has gone very nicely with our club members coming in for the first time and we see the delight in their eyes. They try the coffee, including many they have never tried before and that is most satisfying. This place showcases what the brand is and I am grateful that they are experiencing the brand at a depth they never have before.”
The boutique’s new concept is the first of its kind in South-East Asia. Explains Dalziel, “The way the boutique is designed, it is done with a very open environment … the lighting, the colour scheme … very welcoming and cosy. As you move through the boutique as you wish, it makes for a nice environment. You can touch, feel and smell. If you touch the table-tops made with used coffee grounds, you will realise its unique texture. You will also see that the environment and sustainability is very important to us, as is reforestation. It is all very interactive, and not only just the physical design, but the welcoming by the staff, the atmosphere …”
Dalziel also shared that personally, for him, what is special is, “The different aspects, the hands-on experience. It’s a sensory experience. Taste is key and the experiencing of the aromas of the coffee. Sensory moments are important for the true coffee connoisseurs and we are trying to deliver this to customers and coffee lovers.”
A good boss, Dalziel also believes in empowering the team. “They are called coffee specialists and it’s not just a title but we make sure they go through the training to reach that level of expertise and capability. Our regional training manager comes down to make sure they know their job well. Understanding the coffee varieties, how to savour the tasting in different ways and also the customer service aspect as well … it makes a whole world of difference.”
He believes in investing in terms of not only in training but also growing their confidence, building the passion and knowledge and empowering them to give customers a great experience when they visit. Well, on my part, I certainly can vouch for the friendliness and good nature of the staff as I experienced it firsthand.
Dalziel goes on to explain that there are many different aspects of sustainability. “If you want to be truly sustainable, it has to be the crop, the trees around, how it grows. Also there is the aspect of recycling. Bring the used coffee capsules back to us and we will look after it.”
Nespresso will reuse it or recycle it and one good example is the lovely artwork on the wall which I initially thought was an interesting, attractive piece but only after being told, realised it was made up of coffee capsules which had already been used. He also shared that it is also important to use organic fertiliser. And, did you know that coffee plants are great for reforestation areas as they need to grow in the shade and in these sort of areas, they grow prolifically alongside the trees?
When asked if other boutiques are in the plan, Dalziel said, “We hopefully will be able to bring more and more Malaysians to the boutique and maybe in the future, will open other Nespresso stores as well. “
On how the new concept has been received all over the world, Dalziel explained that it is all still very new but the feedback is that people felt the place was much more approachable and the understanding of what Nespresso is has been truly showcased. What they also love is that one gets to feel the premium nature of the brand.
It’s the great design, the touch and welcome feel and the cosiness that he loves most about the new Nespresso boutique. “I love the thought of people buying coffee, hanging out at the coffee bar … it’s all so cool, whether it is the ground coffee table-tops or the different sensory experiences, all of which make a big difference.
“People are interacting with brands now … a lot of information is out there and they are willing to source for it. They are able to understand us … we do notice that a lot of Malaysians like their coffee with milk. It might be different from Italians, but not so different from Australians who like it with milk too. When someone who enjoys cappuccino comes here, we can also serve the coffee as an espresso and they may find they can enjoy it this way too. We want people interaction, we want to play a part in changing the coffee culture and help evolve it further. We want people to know what a good cup of coffee is and we can help them on the journey. Nespresso is ever willing to share knowledge and experiences, so come in and have a coffee experience unlike any other.”