We’re all tired of plastic or aluminum capsules for making coffee, and I guess buying pre-ground coffee, a bean to cup machine, or just grinding your own beans is too much work for some people. Swiss coffee brand Migros has launched the CoffeeB machine, which uses coffee balls instead of traditional capsules. He wants to create a space between the convenience of capsules and the green factor that the grinder crowd has grown accustomed to.
The Coffee Ball is part of a new coffee capsule system – the first of its kind – which works entirely without capsules and generates no waste. The company claims it is “revolutionizing an industry plagued by colossal waste” and claims that capsule coffee drinkers produce 100,000 tonnes of waste globally each year. Some pods are indeed recyclable or biodegradable, but most still end up in the trash.
“The next generation of capsule coffee is here, and it comes capsuleless,” says Dr. Caroline Siefarth of CoffeeB, who helped develop the system. “After half a decade of research, we have created CoffeeB, which will revolutionize the way the world drinks single-serve coffee.”
CoffeeB’s trick is to compress the coffee balls into a tasteless, colorless algae-based layer that gives the coffee structure and protects it from flavor loss. This means that the coffee capsule itself is fully compostable.
Of course, CoffeeB is the only company to make these capsules, and although they release eight different blends on day one (“of balance lungs to punchy espressos”), I’m still a little “meh” about the whole concept. My fear is that, if the launch doesn’t go well, there will be a bunch of shiny new machines that people can’t buy coffee for anymore. Two guesses: where do these machines end up? Yes, in the same landfill the company so happily tried to keep capsule-free.
For now, the machine is only available in Switzerland and costs a fairly reasonable price of $175 (CHF 169). A pack of nine scoops of coffee costs around $5, which seems about in line with other pod-based systems.
The main reason I decided to cover these machines is because it shows that rethinking the way we do things can give the environment some respite. Better design, with the environment at heart, will be a big piece of the puzzle in avoiding a climate crisis.
I have to say, though: we live in a world where coffee machines exist, and there’s not exactly a shortage of coffee beans in the world, ranging from the very cheap variety at the big box stores, to specialty hipster cafes, to the option of roasting your own, if you really want to control every aspect of your caffeine release. The beans require less processing and fewer tricks to make (not to mention we don’t add algae to the mix), it looks like we already have a green solution and educating coffee drinkers (or, maybe (maybe, making sure people pay the “green fee” for using plastic or metal caps) would be a better solution.