Coffee with the Founders
A company that tackles coffee and composting together? If that raises your eyebrows, then settle down with some quick No Harm Done (NHD) one-on-ones!
Interviewed and written by Samuel Wong
Of all things... coffee capsules?
Simon: We were given a Nespresso machine as a gift in the office, and both the convenience and coffee’s good. But it piles up this disgusting amount of eco-unfriendly trash. It really stood out and at the end of the day, it bugged us.
At some point, we were discussing and thought that we should find a solution that will enable us to have the best of both worlds – great coffee that leaves minimal impact on the environment.
Rathi: Our friends suggested refillable pods, but they didn’t taste as good and were just so inconvenient! It was unimaginable to deal with when you’re in an office and need something quick. Dealing with the inconvenience of existing alternatives helped us recognise that eco-conscious choices could be easier.
If we could improve on convenience, others will naturally be encouraged to adopt them. It’s also important to get the taste right: what’s the point in a great, eco-friendly product if nobody wants to drink it?!
Spill the beans – what keeps you up at night?
Staying true to the eco-friendly mission
Rathi: There’s this constant challenge of sticking to the mission versus having a chance to grow the business, especially for Simon. I think I’m more strict with that – I’ve been told I’m the grounding factor here!
Simon: It has definitely been tough and frustrating at times to let go of opportunities, but we stay true to the company's core values. It’s why, for example, we struggle to enter the bigger retail channels and compete against other companies. It’s hard to swallow how they market themselves as eco-solutions, but continue to use plastic packaging.
Rathi: In the end, it's a good process that makes it all the more rewarding. After having our daughter, we wanted to bring her up in a world that's making a change, to let her see her parents doing what they strongly believe in. So, we're going to stick to our beliefs and make it work!
Engineering the capsule
Simon: As a German, I get into the technical side of things. Personally, I feel that our number one challenge is being limited by the current technology in compostable packaging materials.
For us, the different components need to be constantly analysed and better understood. We send batches to labs (one in Germany for instance!) for analysis to help narrow down the things to consider. Our goal is to further raise their shelf life to 12-18 months. While that sounds crazily long for coffee in compostable packaging, it's simply the retail standard.
It's how we can help to eliminate the greenwashed capsules currently on the shelves, so we want to go all the way.
What’s brewing next?
The mass market
Simon: Our sights are on the mass market where we can create the most impact. We’re on a journey to impact as many people as possible, and to replace as many plastic and aluminium capsules with compostable ones in the eco-friendly or coffee markets. Currently, we get most of our sales via our online shop.
Rathi: What's encouraging is that many customers return to subscribe with us, saying that they're fans of our products and our mission! So, we want to grow with this community and reach mass market status together. Eventually, you'll see our eco-friendly options on supermarket shelves during your grocery runs.
A circular economy
Rathi: We want to try going all the way, to close the loop. We aspire to have our customers join us and become part of the circular economy.
The other Cs: community, cooperate, collaborate?
Simon: We’d love to collaborate! I think there is a good sense of community in companies with this vision or this shared belief. For example, we are proudly partnered with zero-waste store Unpackt, while Delcie's offers our coffee alongside their delicious desserts and cakes! But there’s definitely much, much, much more that can be done: newsletters, events, and so on.Rathi: There is a huge potential here in Singapore – we just haven’t fully tapped into it.