Q&A: The secret to guilt-free coffee

In our final Q&A of 2019 we chat to Kayla Mossuto, founder of Crema Joe, a coffee pods refill and exchange service that helps businesses reduce waste without having to curb coffee consumption because, as Kayla says, “We all know that work and coffee go hand in hand!”

ISB: How did the idea of a coffee pod refill and exchange service come about?

KM: We’ve been helping households to reduce their capsule waste since 2014 – our users are now preventing 11.5 million pods from ending up as waste annually. However, these figures are only a small portion of the 131 billion capsules consumed every year. We certainly felt that there was a lot to be done when it comes to capsule waste and corporate social responsibility. These statistics drove us to launch our new initiative, aiming to assist Australian workplaces to encourage staff to become habitual re-users, reinforce the behavioural shift from “discard” to “reuse” and reduce their environmental impact.

ISB: Please tell us briefly how the service operates.

KM: Our team deliver freshly roasted coffee packed in reusable stainless-steel capsules direct to workplaces. The following week, the used coffee pods are picked up and replaced with a new batch of pre-packed coffee pods for staff to enjoy. It’s a closed loop – the spent coffee grounds are not forgotten either, and will find another life as garden fertiliser or even in beauty products.

ISB: As a sustainability-focused business, how do you ensure that most, if not all, materials are being recycled?

KM: It’s crucial that we maintain our ethos across the board. While some packaging may be labelled as recyclable, recycling is still an energy intensive exercise. We’re focused on promoting a circular economy, whereby product re-use is encouraged in every way – this includes product packing materials. We collect and repurpose used packaging materials from local businesses and individuals – boxes and packing peanuts that generally get sent straight to landfill can easily be reused. We want to prolong the life of these items, eliminating the production of additional materials for postage and shipping purposes, harnessing a circular economy within the local community.

ISB: From targeting households, your service is now aimed towards workplaces as well – what was the biggest challenge this shift presented, and how did you overcome it?

KM: As a small business, resources have always been (and continue to be) our biggest challenge. Simply getting this project up and running has been a long process, due to cash flow and lack of people power! We recently learned that we’re one of the City of Melbourne Small Business Grant Recipients for 2019. The grant is certainly going to give our corporate offering a boost for 2020, which will enable us to increase our offering and further grow our impact.

ISB: And what opportunities have opened up for your business since you included workplaces in the scheme?

KM: Naturally, having a presence within workplaces has increased our reach, and further assisted in general brand awareness. We’re also in discussion with a range of businesses and organisations with regards to partnerships, so we’re expecting to see these opportunities to come to fruition in the new year.

ISB: Finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on your journey you’d share with others looking to start a sustainability-focused enterprise?

KM: Build it from the ground up – it’s so important to start with a sustainable foundation. With greenwashing on the rise, customers will question a brands integrity, so it’s important to be transparent. Simply selling an eco-friendly product isn’t enough, as a sustainable business, everything you do should be designed or actioned with purpose. A sustainable product should respect the environment at every stage, so it’s also crucial to commit to a responsible supply chain.