Bland Coffee

“How does this taste again?” Last week, when I found myself reaching for the green coffee capsule, this question stopped me in my tracks. I counted. Seven out of ten left. “How do you not know how this tastes?”

At first, I wanted to blame my memory. A look around the other flavors proved me wrong. “Well, the golden one has hints of honey in it. The Shanghai variation smells lemony, and the Tokyo flavor tastes hearty yet flowery.” What was it about Nespresso’s Peru Organic variety that kept it firmly out of my grasp to describe it?

One cup later, I had my answer, and it was as simple as it was disappointing: It just tastes bland. Lifeless. Forgettable. Nothing more than slightly flavored water.

As a long-time Nespresso customer, that’s not what I’m used to. It’s one of the few bad kinds of coffee among a sea of great ones. Usually, each variety comes with a distinct, memorable aroma — so for Nespresso, a coffee that would blend in perfectly with other, cheaper, lower-quality beans actually stands out.

But not every business is Nespresso, and not every brand has dozens of products to save their butt when one is subpar. If your first offering is bland, there might not be a second one.

For most of us, in life and in business, it’s better if people remember us the first time — and for the right reasons, too. Don’t be bland coffee. Don’t make us sample your kindness, humor, or generosity multiple times. Show us properly, and show us right away. If you’re lucky, we’ll come back for more.

Don’t be the green capsule. Don’t make us ask, “How does this taste again?” You don’t come in packs of ten, and that’s one of the best things about you — but only if you leave a meaningful first impression.