We are coffee addicts, but even more so we are convenience addicts. Single-use coffee pods have exploded in popularity since they were first introduced in 1976 by Nespresso, followed suit by other companies. Not only convenient, it is quick, easy, delicious and endorsed by the suave George Clooney. I mean, what is there not to like?
Except that collectively, the popularity of single-use pods is a huge environmental problem (for instance, in 2013, Nespresso sold approximately 28 billion pods worldwide). Some parts plastic, some parts aluminium, some parts organic matter – it is relatively difficult to recycle, unless you go through the effort of sending the pods to a boutique recycler like Terracycle. Oftentime, the pods end up in landfills.
Along comes Podsta, a fresh and innovative coffee-equivalent of letting you have your cake and eat it too. It is a reusable stainless steel capsule compatible with Nespresso, and creates no waste (aside from your coffee grounds which can be composted). Here, I sit down with Kirsten Williams, founder of Podsta, to get to know the company and the inspiration that was behind its creation.
Getting to Know You
I am so excited to have you here! What type of coffee are you brewing today for our conversation? Why did you choose it?
Today I am enjoying Start Me Up, made with our Podsta reusable capsule in our home Nespresso machine. It’s a beautiful strong coffee hit to get me going in the morning and get me excited about the day.
I like different coffee for different times of the day. After lunch, for example, I have a bit of an energy slump, and I go into a different mode for the afternoon, with the cruisy, long-lasting flavour of It’s Bean A Long Time.
Tell us about yourself and your coffee journey.
I have always been on a bit of a mission to improve my life over the years, whether it be health, happiness, relationships, or my environment. And after spending 18 months travelling the world with my husband and enjoying our beautiful earth, we decided we wanted to work on a business that helped the natural environment in some way.
We researched reusable coffee capsules having discovered the horrific stats of plastic and aluminium coffee capsules going to landfill in Australia. We tested and modified our chosen capsule and packaging until we were super happy with the quality of capsule and coffee.
Podsta started production in July 2018.
The document series “War on Waste” really changed the landscape in educating us about our waste problems. Coffee drinking is such a delight in our lives, but there is also such a massive amount of waste generated that we are now only beginning to address.
Was there anything in your background that contributed to your decision to tackle disposable coffee pods?
Yes! With over 3 million coffee capsules going to landfill in Australia a day, we are happy to offer a solution. Besides being huge coffee lovers, my husband and I have always had a passion for the great outdoors, and so our passions converged with our business and marketing experience. We saw that a reusable coffee capsule was one small way to make a huge impact on reducing landfill.
We are here to evolve, and as such, our business continues to improve. We worked on packaging solutions to help reduce waste, and found a carbon neutral courier which we are able to use for 90% of our deliveries.
We are looking for alternatives for a couple of the accessories, and complementary products that can replace other non-eco friendly products being used.
Every small step can have a big impact!
How has the importance of ethics and sustainability played a role in selecting what type of coffee that Podsta sells?
Podsta is all about ethics and sustainability. It’s why we exist, and the coffee we selected is roasted by one of Australia’s top coffee roasters. While this roaster imports a huge variety of beans, we have chosen the very best of their Rainforest Alliance and Fair-trade coffee to supply. We grind the freshly roasted beans to the perfect grind for the Podsta capsule.
I think people don’t realise the impact of their purchases, as a lot of what happens in production of products is unseen to them. We have been supporters of charities that raised our awareness of human labour slavery in very poor countries (many of which produce coffee).
So it was incredibly important to us to make sure we were being responsible in buying beans from producers who were certified as properly paying staff and having a good standard of working conditions, while caring for the environment, and reducing harmful chemicals.
At the very least, Podsta aims to ‘do no harm’, but our ultimate goal is to help to make improvements in the world.
What’s coming next for Podsta?
What would be your ultimate personal coffee experience?
If there is one person, living or passed, whom you can have coffee with right now, who would that be and why?
Your favourite type of coffee?
It’s Bean A Long Time.
Your favourite way to make coffee?
A Podsta capsule in a Nespresso machine.
Single or blended?
I have no bias here – it depends on the blend or the single origin.
Hot or cold?
HOT! Although I did have amazing cold ‘coconut coffee’ in Vietnam this year.
Sweet or savoury pairing?
Sweet for me. Dark chocolate is perfect.
Tea – yes or no?
Yes, but coffee first.
Chocolate – yes or no?
Absolutely! Dark, 70% cacao.