How the TK-01 and beyond played a part in our quest for better rituals.
As the Terra Kaffe team continues to reshape the home coffee experience, I thought it would be worthwhile to step back and explain what prompted us to embark on this mission in the first place.
The catalyst was a single shopping experience in the Summer of 2017. I was on the hunt for a new home coffee machine. A personal passion for quality espresso and the desire to have it available on a daily basis transformed from a shopping trip into the genesis of Terra Kaffe.
The question seemed simple: What is the best home coffee machine on the market that conveniently brews high-quality espresso coffee? The answer to this question was anything but.
This imagined machine would have to brew delicious espresso, fit seamlessly into a busy Monday-to-Friday schedule, and also provide all the tools needed for that quintessential morning ritual. And while just the existence of quality coffee is a major piece of that ritual element, the contemporaneous offerings lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. I wasn’t convinced I could find a meaningful ritual with the current lineup.
In his pursuit, the vast majority of my friends and colleagues suggested that the only good option would be a pod machine, such as Nespresso. It seemed that the coffee output was generally respected and the convenience was certainly there. But there was one major trade-off that was, in our eyes, inexcusable: their environmental footprint.
“[coffee pod waste] will be a disaster and it’s time to move on that. People shouldn’t sacrifice the environment for convenience.”
Jean-Paul Gaillard (Former Nespresso Chief Executive)
At that time that I was searching for a new coffee machine, it felt as if nearly every month I was reading a new article about the sheer scale of waste from plastic and aluminum coffee pods. Even worse than the statistics about how wasteful pods had become was the deception and tactics used to mask the eco-impact and green-wash the company.
For several years, Nespresso has touted its recycling program as a crowning achievement to protect the environment. However, the company has never released data on what percentage of capsules are actually recycled or how “clean” their recycling methodology really is.
In 2018, Financial Times research estimated that potentially less than 1% of all Nespresso capsules are currently being recycled. At the end of the day, the recycling program seemed to be more of a marketing initiative than a true problem-solver, as it simply did not work. With that, there was no way I could justify purchasing any such device.
Unable to find a strong home countertop contender, I was stuck wondering: was I better off only consuming espresso & specialty coffee out-of-home, ignoring the cries of my wallet? Through my diligent research, I had come across a product category called “fully-automatic bean-to-cup machines,” and it was there that I spotted a glimmer of hope.
These coffee machines were able to brew quality espresso from fresh whole or ground coffee beans (as opposed to capsules/pods) at the push of a button. The inner-workings and touchscreen interfaces, however, were nothing to get excited about; they all utilized 1990’s technology, sold for an average of $1,200, and were produced by brands that were more specialized in electric toothbrushes, not espresso.
A path forward began to seem clear. An opportunity was brewing. Already having experience in hardware and manufacturing, I decided to take it upon myself to bring about a new offering that taps into this nascent opportunity of bean to cup coffee machines. It would combine the quality and experience progressive consumers desire with the convenience and ease-of-use that nearly every career-oriented person needs.
Simply put, this new venture would make quality espresso accessible to more people. The new company behind it would cater to the conscious consumer who cares about what they put in their body and seeks options that fit both their lifestyle and values.
Hence, the beginning of Terra Kaffe.