Here’s a dirty secret: coffee pods create tons of waste, and companies are starting to notice as customers dump the product over environmental concerns.
Keurig Green Mountain, the company that made single-serve coffee pods famous, has tried to ease environmental concerns by developing a recyclable K-Cup, but the end product isn’t eco-friendly because they aren’t compostable or reusable.
Not to worry, single serve coffee lovers. A responsible, biodegradable K-Cup does exist, with coffee pods that are compostable and filled with sustainably sourced grounds.
Tayst, a New York-based coffee roaster, is the creation of long-time entrepreneurs and business owners Greg Byrnes and Craig Handleman. The idea for the company stemmed from plastic waste at their last office, which was going through 1,000 K-Cups a month.
“It was kinda disgusting to both of us,” Byrnes said. “We looked at the coffee business, and we looked at what was going on and the opportunity and said, ‘You know, there's a better way to do this. This can be fixed. This can be changed.’"
Coffee Pods Without The Green Guilt
That realization evolved into Tayst, a subscription service that offers single-serve coffee pods without the environmental concerns. Every month, customers can get capsules for Keurig and Nespresso machines shipped to their door in a variety of flavors.
Instead of the plastic cups filled with mediocre coffee that you’re used to, Tayst pods are filled with Rainforest Alliance-certified beans packaged in the roaster’s innovative PurPod.
Developed in partnership with scientists at the University of Toronto, the PurPod is the only 100% BPI certified compostable pod on the market. The key to making the pod work, according to Byrnes, is the ring made from coffee chaff, a byproduct of the roasting process. It sits atop a mesh filter, which creates a bolder, more flavorful cup of coffee.
“Everybody loved it,” he said. “And everybody's super excited they don't have to use these plastic cups anymore. Forget about these toxins coming through, the wastefulness of it.”
This commitment to reducing waste is also baked into Tayst’s direct-to-consumer business model. By avoiding the middlemen involved with selling the product in stores, the company can further reduce its environmental footprint and keep prices competitive.
“We've had offers, we've had people who want to bring our product into retail stores and distribution.” Byrnes said, “But it's not what we want to do because that is part of the problem.”
The Quest For Better Coffee
This sustainable model has worked well for Tayst. After launching in summer 2016, the company is developing new flavors and working to make its signature PurPod even more eco-friendly.
“It's actually very difficult to get people to change their coffee habits,” Byrnes said. “They really love whatever coffee they're drinking, so we have to blow them away with a great flavor and be able to convince them that our product is a better product than they use.”
The eco-friendly product draws customers in, but the quality of the coffee keeps them coming back for more. Byrnes said Tayst includes extra samples in every order because they want people to give them away and spread the word.
"It's a great thing to do something for the environment,” he said. “But if the coffee sucks, nobody drinks it."
Finding that perfect coffee was a lengthy quest. It took nearly a year of sampling 500 varieties to find the brew they were searching for.
"If I told you how much coffee we drank last year perfecting those blends," Byrnes said with a laugh. "I'm amazed I didn't have a heart attack."
But he also described the process of finding the right product as a labor of love. “It's part of the fun of what we did,” he said. “We wanted to develop coffee we love to drink.”
Tayst is still looking forward to its first anniversary, and the company has already saved about a quarter of a million plastic coffee pods from ending up in landfills, Byrnes said. The ultimate goal is keeping 100 million coffee pods from the landfill by 2020.
“There’s a lot of love and hard work put into it,” Byrnes said. “It's insanely great coffee that's also great for the planet.”