Bringing Urban Brew beans onto our site, we knew that we were sure to get a lot of questions, comments, and queries about reusable pods. So, we thought we would make this little blog to answer them :)
To make coffee great
As raging coffee lovers, we expect a lot from a cup of coffee. Not just the ability to magically get you enjoying the company of those around you, but also flavour, warmth, and that crucial wake-up kick.
When purchasing pods and brewing coffee at home, we want barista-quality coffee at a great price – without having to go through the necessary training courses to get one.
But in this day and age, we want something more than just a quick, easy, and delicious cup of coffee. We want something that does all of that, whilst still not impacting the environment.
What’s a coffee lover to do?
Here at Urban Brew, we have attempted to solve this dilemma by introducing the first biodegradable coffee pods ever onto the Australian market.
These pods, and the following business, were made with these necessities in mind:
Quality, flavour, and strength
Eco-friendly in production, packaging, and disposal
Value per dollar spent
So, sit back, relax, and let us tell you how we’re changing coffee for the better.
So, what is a pod?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us explain exactly what a coffee pod is.
The first coffee pods hit the market in 2001.
They are a single-serving coffee container that comes in all different shapes and sizes depending on the type of machines and brands they are compatible with.
Nespresso is generally the most popular brand in Australia, however, some other names you might know are LOR, Caffitaly, KFEE, Vittoria, etc.
To use a pod, water is poured into the coffee machine and then pumped through the pod.
This water releases the flavour as the coffee within the pod is brewed and filtered out of the bottom, into your mug. The grounds are left within your pod to be thrown away or reused (we’ll get to this part later).
The name ‘coffee pod’ can be used for either a plastic or aluminium capsule with a foil top (such as the ones Urban Brew make) or an individually packed disc-shaped pod – like a tea bag.
You might have also heard the term ‘capsule’ being used when describing our pods. This is perfectly fine as well, however, we usually just call them ‘pods’ here at Urban Brew.
What are the pros and cons of coffee pods?
So now you know what a pod is, what is the big deal about them? What’s the good and the bad?
You don’t have to grind beans or measure grounds.
You don’t have to worry about water temperature and other variables.
Brewing time is short – your coffee will be ready in as little as 2-3 minutes.
Coffee pods are consistent – you get the exact amount of coffee and flavour each time.
You also know exactly how many cups of coffee you can make with each purchase.
Each pod extracts exactly the same so they’re easy to troubleshoot.
Unfortunately, many traditional coffee pods qualify as single-use plastics.
So, now we know what coffee pods are, their benefits and their downfalls. But what about their reusable counterparts?
As their name suggests, reusable pods are refillable capsules that address most of the single-use concerns of traditional pods.
Refillable pods are usually made of stainless steel, however, can also be made of other reusable materials. The capsule is a durable, greener alternative to single-use, plastic pods.
This is because they can be emptied, cleaned, and reused.
Whilst more environmentally friendly, reusable pods do sacrifice some of the convenience of using regular pods.
You’ll also spend more time cleaning and filling the pods – the cleaning resulting in higher water waste over time.
Do reusable pods make good coffee?
Since we now know what reusable pods are and their environmental impact, we come down to the ultimate question: do they make good coffee?
Whilst reusable pods are arguably a great eco-friendly option, unfortunately, they won’t necessarily make the best cup of coffee.
Instead of the consistency that a single-use pod supplies, getting things ‘just right’ is in your hands.
There are multiple factors that you need to consider in order to achieve the perfect coffee. You need to add the perfect volume of coffee and pack it down just right (also known as ‘tamping’).
Knowing how to do these barista-style skills is not something everyone is keen to master.
Not to mention the process can also be a little messy and grounds are wasted tamping and filling the capsules.
This is why we created Urban Brew, so you can enjoy a great, easy, consistent coffee that is eco-friendly.
Are coffee pods recyclable or biodegradable?
As single-use coffee pods take hundred of years to break down, there’s recently been growing demand for more eco-friendly alternatives.
The good news is that Urban Brew pods are both recyclable and biodegradable.
To recycle the pods, follow these steps:
Remove the foil lid. This part of the pod is too small to be recycled on its own, so you’ll have to collect the lids into a ball large enough to be picked up by the recycling system (this is usually around the size of a golf ball).
Scoop out the grounds. These grounds can also be repurposed in your compost or garden – you can also use them as a facial scrub. Find out more uses for those groundshere.
Rinse or wipe out the pod and add it to your recycling bin. Similar to the foil, you should collect your pods in a larger plastic container – such as a milk carton or ice cream tub – in order for it to be efficiently picked up by recyclers.
As our packaging is made of cardboard, you can recycle this too. You can learn more about this recycling processhere.
We know that the method of recycling the pods could be tedious for some people, meaning that a lot of them will still end up in landfill.
This is why we make biodegradable coffee pods.
Urban Brew uses d2w oxo-biodegradable plastic to manufacture our pods. Meaning the material doesn’t just break down into microplastics.
Instead, it rapidly converts into a food source for microorganisms. They become a part of the food chain shortly after you toss them out.
They are able to be broken down in either land or water, without leaving any harmful residues behind.
In landfill, our pods take around two years to break down. You don’t need to be a mathematician to know that’s a lot better than the hundreds of years it takes conventional pods.
Compostable coffee pods
Fully home compostable pods are our main goal for the future of - not just Urban Brew - but the whole coffee pod movement.
This is because Australia, unfortunately, doesn’t yet have many industrial composting facilities. Many materials labelled as ‘compostable’ are often tested in such industrial facilities, however, don’t break down as efficiently in a home backyard system.
Here at Urban Brew, we are seeking the perfect pod – with a large focus on sustainable coffee.
Our pods already come in a compostable pouch; the used grounds are also compostable.
Now, we’re working towards a home compostable pod – the support of our amazing Urban Brew family (you guys) helping us accelerate towards that goal.
Making coffee with a pod machine
Whether you’re using reusable or biodegradable pods, knowing what type of machine they’re compatible with is the first step.
Given how many machines and pod types there are out there, it’s no surprise that some pods will generally work with certain machines and not others.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all scenario.
The most common design is the Nespresso original design; however, Nespresso also makes the Vertuo-style pods which are larger and rounder in shape.
Urban Brew pods are compatible with the Nespresso OriginalLine machines, but not with the newer VertuoLine. We also have pods compatible for Caffitaly and K-Fee machines.
If you want more details about our compatibility, you can check out this link.
How to make the best pod coffee
Like anything, the best possible result comes from knowing what you’re doing. Fortunately, making a great pod coffee isn’t hard and there are only a few steps.