Myth Busting - are capsules really "the bad guy"?
Myth 2: Capsule coffee is horrible - avoid it like the plague!
Myth 3: Capsules are a fad - it will all blow over in a year or two
Myth 4: Capsules are a blight on the environmental landscape
Myth 5: Aluminium capsules are superior - why is Quantum's G2 system plastic?
Customers come in all shapes and sizes, tastes and preferences. Chances are you already supply pre-ground coffee for filters, plungers, stove-top and home espresso machines. Of course none of those coffee offerings are suitable for your café or hospitality outlets… but they are well accepted in homes and small businesses throughout the country and you are meeting your customers' needs by providing them.
But times have changed. Many one-time filter or plunger-ground coffee drinkers have graduated to capsule systems; some people with group-head machines have even exchanged them for capsule machines seeking convenience, fast serve and less hassle. For small workplaces in search of a foolproof solution, capsule machines are helping to improve the quality of what a novice can offer, minimising waste and keeping the bench clean.
Add to this what you can see all around you. NespressoTM continues to advertise heavily and to open new stores across the country; larger New Zealand coffee brands are placing imported capsules into supermarkets; appliance chains offer capsule systems at cut prices or with cash-back; some of your friends and relatives have even moved to "the dark side" and bought their own capsule machine for their home or bach!
Remember the days of wine in corked bottles? Corks were "the only way" to seal quality wine if you were a serious player. Remember the unrecoverable backlash on vintners who dared to embrace the "new" screw cap? Hmmm... we can't either.
Capsule systems are meeting a need and are growing in popularity. But just like plunger-ground, they are simply a means for customers to enjoy coffee the way they want it… so offering your roast – in a capsule is just the next step in fulfilling your mission to serve your customers. After all, coffee in all of its forms, is your specialty.
Myth 2: Capsule coffee is horrible - avoid it like the plague! back to top
In our travels we have found roasters who make this claim but have not ever tasted espresso from a capsule machine. Nor have they explored the convenience, variety, consistency and safety that capsule machines afford the user.
Capsules will never replace espresso prepared by a trained barista. However, how many homes or workplaces actually possess a qualified barista? Capsule machines remove the guesswork and hassle out of making espresso for a sizable group of people who simply wish for a better-than-average coffee experience. Capsule machines are, in fact, responsible for an overall improvement in the quality of coffee served in a non-commercial setting. In a sense, the capsule market is helping to drive higher expectations in the marketplace and indirectly supporting the fresh-roasted market.
Once you try your roast - in a capsule you will see that capsule coffee has its place in the appropriate context.
All that said, not all capsules are created equal. Some brands of capsule coffee are awful... and that comes as no surprise since the fundamentals Quantum offers are missing. By using Quantum's service,
your roast - in a capsule will possess the following (and more):
- freshness - not imported from some unknown source somewhere halfway across the globe
- taste - blended and roasted in NZ, by you, for Kiwi taste buds
- credibility - backed by a brand (your brand) that is already known and loved by your faithful customers
- compatible - capsules truly fit and perform as intended in capsule machines
Myth 3: Capsules are a fad - it will all blow over in a year or two back to top
We first published this myth when we first put our website on-line in 2015... So it's clearly not true. The capsule segment continues to grow and evolve - and every year captures more of your customers who used to buy fresh-roasted plunger ground or beans from you. Without a capsule offering, local roasters are developing a group of local coffee drinkers only to have them "graduate" and move on to more convenient capsule systems.
It is difficult to see why consumers would revert to less convenient options - once people settle on a preference, particularly when it comes to coffee, they are difficult to budge. The current generation of New Zealanders are going to continue to demand capsules for the foreseeable future.
What will change is the types and varieties of capsule systems on offer. Currently the NespressoTM system is dominant in New Zealand. Quantum capsules are compatible with NespressoTM systems but should other quality options arise, we will explore how we can extend your roast - in a capsule to include those systems.
As with any human activity, there is an impact on our environment. It is every generation's responsibility to keep their footprints "light" and pass the Earth onto future generations in good shape. Precisely how that is done requires careful thought, innovation and effort. Rhetoric is no substitute for meaningful action.
Capsules systems generate a stream of spent capsules which are the "visible" footprints of coffee consumed this way. By choosing recyclable materials in our capsule components Quantum enables this waste stream to be minimised. We encourage our customers to separate lids and cups, place the spent coffee in compost and put the lids and cups into recycling.
Some other imported capsules claim biodegradability or are "compostable" but the jury is still out on whether the overall impact of this approach is truly beneficial. However, the principle still applies that there are choices and actions a consumer can make to enable spent capsules to be dealt with acceptably and responsibly.
Regarding capsule systems as a whole, consider the following facts regarding the overall impact on our environment:
- Energy use - capsule machines are highly energy-efficient because they typically heat just the small amount of water and steam required to make each drink. Other large machines with boilers (or simply the electric jug!) are constantly heating large quantities of water and steam, consuming more energy per cup of coffee served.
- Packaging - Quantum capsules are produced and distributed fresh, requiring no non-recyclable oxygen barrier packaging. The majority of fresh coffee beans and pre-ground coffee is sold in non-recyclable composite plastic/foil bags which are necessary to keep the coffee fresh even for short a time until consumed. Composite bags represent an "unseen" waste stream seldom spoken of in the coffee industry and take significant periods (100+ years) to break down in landfill. Even if polypropylene capsules end up in landfill, they will typically degrade into their inert, non-toxic constituents within 30 years.
- Waste - The measured serving under controlled conditions that capsules provide minimises the amount of waste coffee and cleaning required in the home or workplace. Grinding too much coffee that is thrown out (or consumed stale) and cleaning up spillages and complex milk steaming equipment with water and detergents are environmental overheads that are minimised by capsule systems.
Myth 5: Aluminium capsules are superior - why is Quantum's G2 system plastic? back to top
Well, first of all, Quantum's system is a hybrid of both aluminium and plastic (polypropylene with a co-injected layer of EVOH). This system combines the best features of both fully-plastic and aluminium systems while avoiding many of the negatives:
- Popular - many imported systems are aluminium (and, of course, Nespresso's original system is). The G2 system is also popular - more recently developed in Germany and used successfully throughout Europe for tens of millions of serves every year.
- Fully compatible - seal and serve well in Nespresso machines. The G2 system is fully compatible with Nespresso machines; with a patented rim that ensures a proper seal and extraction. The foil base ensures ease of lever operation and proper ejection.
- Provide long shelf life - up to several years. The G2 system is suitable for up to 2 years. A co-injected layer of EVOH acts as an oxygen barrier providing comparable performance to aluminium.
- Soft - capsule body easily creased and squashed. This requires significantly more protection and packaging than a hybrid system, leading to more expense as well as waste to dispose of. The G2 hybrid system has a rigid capsule body that allows retail packaging to be minimised (eg "jumble packing") giving an overall smaller environmental footprint when compared to aluminium systems.
- Not always fully aluminium - some systems are coloured using lacquers and/or have a small plastic seal beneath the rim to achieve proper compatibility. These issues compromise the proper recycling of the aluminum and contaminate the waste stream.
- Difficult to recycle from home - typically the end user must gather together spent capsules and send them back (or drop off) to a dedicated recycling scheme. This adds more courier miles and environmental costs to owning a capsule machine. Even once gathered together, aluminium needs significant energy input at highly specialised smelting facilities in order to be practically recycled - this is not trivial with New Zealand's only smelter located at Bluff. Capsules from the G2 system can be home recycled - tops and bases easily removed and rinsed with the PP cup; grounds go into home compost and rinsed components go into Council-supplied home recycling; so no extra pick-ups or special waste treatment required. Councils use bulk recyclers who can consolidate large volumes of like materials (eg aluminium) and send them of economically for specialised treatment.
- Landfill - aluminium capsules that end up in landfill are unlikely to ever breakdown. The plastics in the G2 system will chemically break down in landfill over a number of years leaving just lids and bases behind - less aluminium overall wasted and buried.
- Low Cost, Low Volume Production - the advent of plastic capsules allowed smaller players such as Quantum to address the capsule market (but without the G2 system, plastic capsules have many "Cons"!)
- Highly recyclable - despite claims to the contrary, plastics (particularly polypropylene) are relatively simple to recycle in multiple ways. For example, PP can be ground up and added into plastic melts and made into such things as furniture components, tarpaulins and the like. This is carried out by many plastics companies across the country. The G2 system's components are all recyclable.
- Plastic base - some systems either have an already-open base or a collapsible base for water to be injected through. Open bases allow the coffee to go stale within days without additional packaging; collapsible bases are still not air-tight and require additional force on the machine's lever to puncture prior to serving. The hybrid G2 system has a foil base that has the feel of an aluminium system as well as the oxygen barrier that fully plastic systems cannot offer.
- Oxygen leakage - most plastic systems have cups made of low-cost polypropylene. PP allows oxygen to diffuse into the coffee, making the shelf life very short, degrading the taste and freshness. The G2 system possesses an EVOH co-injected layer that provides an oxygen barrier that protects the capsules' contents. This layer gives shelf life exceeding 12 months without detriment to the recyclability of the polypropylene.
The narrative that aluminium systems are superior comes directly from large corporations who process in bulk off-shore without regard to local needs (both end users or the local coffee industry). Quantum's hybrid system opens a practical, responsible and superior way for Kiwi coffee roasters to address the coffee capsule segment.
Local really is better.