Pod & Parcel: Giving coffee pods a sustainable reputation

Can pod coffee be as good as your favourite café’s brew? Ben and Jai from Pod & Parcel don’t just think so but have also made it possible.

Video: Animation of woman holding smart phone with an Australia Post parcel. Australia Post logo

Text: Small Business Smarts

Video: Exterior shot of Flinders Street station, Melbourne, with cars driving past. Crowded Melbourne laneway with cafes and people sitting on tables outside drinking coffee

Text: Lin Elvin Reporting

Reporter: Melbourne. It’s a city renowned for café culture and high quality brew

Video: Two men, Ben and Jai, founders of Pod & Parcel, standing at a kitchen bench, tasting coffee, with coffee beans and packaging spread out around them

Man: Super fruity that one. It’s awesome.

Video: Close up of a coffee machine, coffee beans and Pods & Parcel packaging

Reporter: It’s here friends Ben and Jai have teamed up to make coffee pods, they say, live up to the city’s coffee reputation

Video: Close up of a coffee being poured from a coffee machine

Text: Ben Goodman, Co-owner, Pod & Parcel

Ben: Pod & Parcel really provides a solution to the current coffee pod situation, in that they don’t taste very nice…

Video: Ben and Jai tasting coffee

Jai: It’s really high grade, specialty coffee

Text: Jai Felinski, Co-owner Pod & Parcel

Jai: We’re the experts on it

Video: Two men sitting at an outdoor café, drinking coffee, chatting and laughing

Reporter: Australian’s love a good coffee. With more than half the population having a brew a day.

Video: Ben and Jai back in kitchen setting, tasting various coffees with coffee beans on the bench around them. And, that’s proving a big business opportunity for Ben and Jai

Ben: A couple of years ago, we used to sell one or two boxes a week and now I think it’s anywhere between 1,000, 2,000 boxes minimum a month.
Video: Close ups of Pod & Parcel packaging. Jai smelling a cup of coffee. And then a coffee capsule being put into a coffee machine.

Reporter: Their point of difference: putting specialty coffee into the convenience of a capsule

Reporter and Ben walking through a factory setting.

Text: Pod & Parcel initially set out to partner with cafes on their coffee capsules

Reporter to Ben: So the coffee is down here, being roasted

Text: Pod & Parcel has since chosen to work with a single contract roaster

Ben: Our partnership with our roaster is fundamental in sourcing great coffee. They have the connections with the farms and the countries themselves

Video: Reporter standing talking to a man in a factory setting looking at equipment

Reporter: I went to the source and spoke to Pod & Parcel’s master roaster

Video: Close up of reporter talking to Jeremy, standing next to a large roasting machine, and bags of coffee beans

Reporter to Jeremy: So Jeremy, can you talk me through the coffee bean roasting process?

Video: A worker in the factory emptying coffee beans into a large vat.

Jeremy: Basically here, we select beans that come from all across the world, from Africa to Central America and South America and take those green beans and really bring them to life through the roasting process.

Video: Jeremy talking to reporter, standing next to large coffee roasting machine

Jeremy: So we’ve got a really big, 70 kilo roaster here, which essentially takes the beans from their green format

Video: Close up of machine working

Jeremy: And we roast them all individually

Video: Jeremy talking to reporter and running his hands through beans

Jeremy: And what we get in the end is a really high quality consistent product that we’re able to give to our customers

Video: Worker using equipment in factory, bagging coffee beans. Close up of coffee beans and ground coffee. Ben and Jai sitting at a large table in an office environment, working on their laptops and talking to each other, looking at Pods & Parcel website

Reporter: It was a love for caffeinated beverages that led Ben to launch the business in his living room

Video:  Photo of Ben in his living room, surrounded by piles of boxes of coffee and packaging. Photo of Ben and Elliot

Text: Elliot Haralambous is now a silent business partner

Ben: We’d been working really late in the office, we were dying for a good coffee. The only thing we had though was a little Nespresso machine. But we thought, you know what, how cool would it be if we could use the beans and the coffee from our favourite cafes during the day, and use that in the Nespresso machine

Video: Photo of Elliot, Ben and Jai holding cups of coffee, in front of Pod & Parcel packaging

Reporter: Six months into the business, Jai bought in

Ben and Jai sitting at a table in an office setting, in front of their laptops, talking to each other and looking at their website

Reporter: And together with Ben, they drew on their business backgrounds to propel the brand forward

Ben: I’m a bit lucky in the sense that I was a business consultant. So I have first-hand experience in, kind of, seeing the inner ways and functionings of how businesses work.

Video: Ben and Jai sitting at laptops again, while looking at their website and talking

Reporter: Despite the success, Ben and Jai admit to making numerous missteps along the way

Ben: We’ve had delayed shipments, so you know customers order their stock and they’re not getting their coffee, which is criminal if you’re providing someone with caffeine

Reporter: To avoid these mishaps and increase efficiencies, Ben and Jai have chosen to outsource their warehouse needs

Ben: We’ve partnered with Australia Post and their service Fulfilio. Up until around 2-3 months ago, we were packing boxes every day 3 to 4 hours between us both. It was killing us.

Video: Piles of boxes stacked in what looks like the inside of a van

Ben: We were working in the business not on it. And so with Fulfilio, it's a warehouse, they receive the stock, they store it, they pick and pack it, they send it. Its just been a lifesaver.

Video: Jai sitting on a couch looking at orders on his laptop

Ben: Updated manifest. And so you can see, we’ve got 14 new orders, and so now I can pick and choose exactly which orders I want to send today.

Video: Close up of Fulfilio website

Ben: Really the beauty of Fulfilio, is that they integrated directly with Australia Post. If a customer wants to return a package, they can do so straight to Fulfilio straight to Aus Post themselves. It’s so simple.

Reporter Lin, talking to Jai, panning to close up of Pod & Parcel packaging, showing different blends

Reporter to Jai: So what’s the most popular pod that you have?

Video: Jai picks up a Pod & Parcel pack of Bancroft blend. Lin and Jai are standing in front of a table with coffee machine, pods and packs of coffee

Jai: Definitely our Bancroft blend here, which is a blend of Brazil and Indonesian coffee.Definitely one of our favourites, so welcome to try it if you like.

Jai puts a pod in the coffee machine

Reporter: Yeah, I’d love to try it

Jai: Awesome

Jai: Pop a pod in…

Video: Coffee pouring from machine into a glass. Lin and Jai pick up 2 glasses of coffee

Reporter: Alright, I think we should try it

Jai: No worries, cheers

Reporter: cheers

Video: Close up of Lin drinking her coffee

Jai: The first thing you’ll notice about our coffee is the actual crema that’s on top…

Video: Close up of coffee showing golden crema on top

Jai: So, it’s super golden, it’s really thick. It’s really close to a café style coffee for real café style

Video: Lin standing in front of a table with coffee machine, coffee pods and packs of Pod & Parcel coffee. She holds a pod while talking to camera

Reporter: Australian’s consume about 3 million of these coffee pods, every single day. Since early last year, Pod & Parcel’s capsules are biodegradable and compostable. Which means they will naturally break down within 3 months of disposal

Video: Ben and Jai sitting at table, talking and looking at the Pod & Parcel website on their laptops

Reporter: Ben and Jai have this candid advice for like-minded Millennials wanting to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps

Ben: When you're starting a business you have to realise that it's probably not gonna work.

Video: Ben and Jai testing coffee blends at a bench surrounded by different types of coffee beans, cups of coffee and coffee machines, while talking and taking notes

Ben: It's all just throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. If you go on without mindset that you're not failing you're just learning, you stumble across things and you get insights that you otherwise wouldn't have realised.

Reporter: Insights learnt firsthand which the duo hope will push them to further expansion

Jai: Bring out a lot of new roasts, we want to expand our range, we really want to be the number one coffee pod manufacturer.

Video: Jai and Ben standing having a toast with their cups of coffee

Jai and Ben to each other: cheers

Video: Animation of woman holding smart phone with an Australia Post parcel. Australia Post logo

Title: Small business smarts

Video: SBS logo

Title: Small Business Secrets

 

It all started with George Clooney. When the suave actor become the face of Nespresso's®1 2006 marketing campaign for single-use coffee capsules or pods, he propelled the little-known concept into the limelight. Now, these pods are a multi-billion dollar global industry, with many brands in on the action.

But every great concept can have some downsides. Although coffee pods are a convenient option for our busy lifestyles, their environmental impact is a concern. As is the quality of the coffee itself.

In 2015, friends Ben Goodman, Jai Felinski, and Elliott Haralambous (now a silent partner) set out to challenge these concerns. Operating from Melbourne, their company Pod & Parcel differs from many of its pod coffee competitors when it comes to sustainability and ethical practices, and of course, flavour.

The idea was simply to supply good coffee – the kind of coffee that Ben, Jai and Elliott were drinking during their coffee breaks as business consultants – and make it available in pod form. Ben says, “In the beginning we’d sell one or two boxes a week. Today we’re selling a minimum of 2,000 boxes a month.”

Two men standing in front of a table full of coffee packaging and coffee-making equipment.

Creating sustainable coffee pods

The coffee they sell is specialty-grade Arabica, sourced directly from coffee farmers in Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea.

Pod and Parcel deals directly with the farmers and the lack of third-party involvement means the company can be certain about quality and also make sure workers are being paid fairly. For this to happen, the boys collaborate with an independent roaster based in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.

“Our partnership with our roaster is fundamental to the whole process. Their connection with the farmers is how we can source such great coffee,” Ben says.

The capsules themselves are compatible with the popular Nespresso® capsule machines. More importantly, they’re made from a sustainable, plant-based material.

Three million pods go to landfill daily in Australia, taking up to 500 years to break down. Pod & Parcel capsules are biodegradable and compostable, breaking down in just 90 days2.

Four boxes of coffee pods arranged on top of each other with a cup of coffee beside it.

Overcoming delivery challenges

Pod & Parcel is prospering now, but the founders concede it hasn’t been an entirely smooth path to success. In the early days, delivery delays were a problem because of their end-to-end fulfilment process.

“We used to spend up to four hours a day packing orders. We were working in the business, not on it,” Ben explains.

Those problems dissolved when they discovered Fulfilio, the Australia Post service that takes care of logistics, warehousing, and picking, packing and posting orders for retailers like Pod & Parcel. It gives small and medium businesses more time to spend on devising new product ranges, marketing, and ultimately, growing sales.

It also offers a same-day fulfilment service - orders placed before midday are dispatched on the same day. “It's just been a lifesaver,” Ben says.

One of the features they like the most is the easy returns process. Pod & Parcel offers a 110% money-back guarantee on its products (the extra 10% is a thank you to their customers) – and Fulfilio makes that policy particularly easy to administer.

“The beauty of Fulfilio is that it’s integrated directly with Australia Post. If a customer wants to return a package, it’s really simple,” Ben says.

Now that they have their logistics and shipping sorted, Ben and Jai can concentrate on their future plans for Pod & Parcel. And those plans are ambitious.

“We want to expand our range and become the number one coffee pod manufacturer,” Jai says.

Small business tips from Pod & Parcel

  1. Be prepared for ideas to flop
    When you start a business, not every idea is going to work. It’s a matter of trying different things and seeing what sticks.
  2. Don’t view an initial lack of success as failure
    Go in with a mindset that you're not failing, you're just learning. You’ll stumble across insights that you otherwise wouldn't have realised.
  3. Take a step back and assess whether you’re using your time well
    Stop and examine how you’re spending your days and whether or not this is the most productive use of your time. If you’re focusing too much on one area, look for ways to outsource the work.

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