Reusable coffee pod business Crema Joe has launched a corporate subscription service in an effort to help businesses make sustainable choices.
The business was founded in 2014 by Kayla and Piers Mossuto after the husband-and-wife duo realised the sheer scale of coffee-pod wastage.
“Aussies consum[e] six million pods a day,” Mossuto tells SmartCompany.
They decided to take action, idenfitifying a gap in the market for a non-plastic pod alternative.
Initially, the family business solely serviced at-home coffee consumers, supplying them with reusable stainless steel pods.
After use, customers return the pods for cleaning, refilling and reshipping, closing the loop of production in the process.
“We need the product to be, ideally, infinitely usable,” she says.
“We’re doing all of the work to make it really easy for people in businesses to make the switch to our products.
“We came up with the idea [of corporate subscriptions] about a year and a half ago.
“It’s been a slow burn, I guess. The project has taken a bit to get off the ground,” she adds.
“Reusing is simpler”
Mossuto notes a correlation between the rise in sustainability awareness and an increase in the business’ revenue.
“Over the years, thanks to the War on Waste series and all the information we’re seeing in the media now about the recycling crisis, we’ve seen a lot of organic growth,” she says.
However, it’s not all good news.
Mossuto has also noticed problematic issues relating to the marketing of recyclable goods — what she describes as ‘greenwashing’.
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While most consumers are aware of the problems inherent to single-use plastics, Mossuto says well-intentioned coffee drinkers are often misled about the benefits of ‘green’ options.
She says consumers who have made the switch “are trying their best to make a planet-friendly choice, but there are a lot of issues to recycling”.
“There’s a lot of energy with recycling, from transport to producing products, to raw materials, to the final recycling process.
“Reusing is simpler and much more effective,” she adds.
Similarly, biodegradable and compostable pods are often marketed without impertinent information about proper disposal etiquette, Mosutto says.
Contrary to the popular belief that compostable products can be thrown into the bin, she says “the majority of those kinds of products have to be broken down in industrial facilities”.
“But they end up in landfills and it’s essentially just as bad, if not worse, than single-use, disposable capsules,” she adds.
Peas in a pod
Running a small business, overseeing four part-time workers, and parenting a young child to boot, Mossuto definitely has her hands full.
The business is “quite resource-poor,” Mossuto says.
It’s this lack of time and resources that has led the founders to outsource where they can — and Mossuto encourages other time-poor or family-run businesses to do the same.
“Don’t be afraid to get help,” she says.
“If you have the cashflow to do it, it can be more efficient to outsource to someone who can do it quicker and better than you.”
Looking ahead, while reluctant to move beyond bootstrapping, Mossuto says she is considering crowdfunding as a way to expand the business’ facilities.
“We have a few initiatives right now, and hopefully, as we increase our reach, we’ll increase our resources.”
However, despite Crema Joe very much being a ‘family business’, the main priority for Mossuto will always be family.
“We’re trying to find that balance, and it just means that sometimes family comes first.”