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.

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.”

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.

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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