Here’s one way to skip the lineup for a remarkable café experience

Here’s one way to skip the lineup for a remarkable café experience

At this month’s Nescafé Coffee Taproom pop-up on Queen West, patrons will have all they need to make themselves a great cup of coffee

Coffee shops are a perfect excuse to get out of the house, work remotely and immerse oneself in the energy of like-minded coffee connoisseurs. Cafés can also be a source of frustration with their long lines, impatient baristas, complicated menus and prices that make you want to drop your cup.

From Friday, June 9, to Wednesday, June 28, habitués of Toronto’s Queen West can enjoy the best—and avoid the rest—of coffee-shop culture at the Nescafé Coffee Taproom. The pop-up shop at 499 Queen St. W., a sunny loft-style retail space in the heart of the city’s busy fashion district, will offer patrons an exclusive coffee-drinking experience.

But there’s a trick to getting through the Taproom’s locked front doors. Visitors will need to use a Nescafé Sweet & Creamy coffee to gain access to the space.

“There will be an iPad where they’ll scan the Sweet & Creamy sachet to get a secret code to unlock the doors,” says Deana Zaghloul, senior marketing manager for Nescafé at Nestlé Canada. “Once they’re inside, they can make their own coffee and hang out in the coffee shop.”

Along with comfy seating, good lighting, lots of power outlets and the prerequisite free wifi, the Nescafé pop-up has another feature that’s a riff on something that’s generated more than a few laughs at mainstream cafés —cups with people’s names spelled wrong on them. Poor “Quartney” may never show up to claim what’s been marked as hers. “The cups are so that people can really get the full coffee-shop experience,” says Zaghloul. “We talked to consumers about what they like about coffee shops, which we’re giving them, and what they dislike, so we’re removing that.”

What’s most noticeably different is the absence of baristas. In their place is a row of elegant taps, which resemble the beer taps you’d see in a brewpub but instead dispense hot water for making steamy cups of Nescafé Sweet & Creamy. For visitors who haven’t worked in a pub, it may be the first time they get to help themselves to taps like these. Brand ambassadors will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance. “The whole idea is for people to be able to do it themselves and discover how easy it is to make a great cup of coffee that’s consistent every time,” says Zaghloul.

Whether purchased at a bricks-and-mortar retailer, through an e-retailer or from Nescafé’s own e-commerce site, sachets from Nescafé Sweet & Creamy Original, French Vanilla and Mocha can all be used to get a secret code. For the duration of the pop-up, a street team will also be giving out sachets that come with cards explaining how to use them to gain access to the Taproom. Packages of Sweet & Creamy available at vendors in the pop-up shop’s neighbourhood will be marked with stickers to let consumers know there’s a cool refuge nearby where they can make and enjoy their favourite drink.

Nestlé relaunched its Sweet & Creamy beverages last year with an eye to wooing younger coffee lovers who want a high-quality coffee experience free of the rigmarole of mainstream cafés. The pop-up experience, a first for Nescafé, takes a beverage that might typically be enjoyed in the home or workplace, and relocates it to a more social spot, one that’s welcoming to remote workers on their laptops, tablets and smartphones, as well as those who might be open to chatting and networking with fellow patrons.

Millennials, in particular, are known for their tendency to seek out unique experiences that can be captured by social media. “The Taproom has a really young atmosphere, but also a simple décor with clean lines,” says Zaghloul. “There are a lot of elements at the location that are very social-media friendly, like the taps themselves and the rest of the décor.”

The Taproom has its own website (taproom.nescafe.ca) and Nestlé is using the social media hashtags #nescafeca and #taproom to spread the word about the experience and how to access it.

Over the course of this month’s pop-up, visitors will be asked to vote on the next location for a Nescafé Taproom pop-up elsewhere in Canada.

The Nescafé Coffee Taproom pop-up shop is at 499 Queen St. W., Toronto, from Friday, June 9, to Wednesday, June 28. It will be open daily 9am to 7pm. taproom.nescafe.ca