Peeze Coffee Roasters’ Compostable Coffee Capsules

Published: 12-11-2015, | Member: Peeze Coffee Roasters

The winner of the 2015 Food Valley Award is a compostable single-serve coffee capsule filled with fair-trade Arabica coffee, developed by Peeze Coffee Roasters from Arnhem, the Netherlands. This innovative capsule was developed through a unique partnership between various companies. It is a product with great market potential, as coffee drinkers worldwide use 10-12 billion single-serve capsules per year. 

Quality and corporate social responsibility are deeply rooted at Peeze Coffee Roasters. The company’s history goes back to 1879, when brothers Gerrit and Willem Peeze started roasting their own coffee beans. They aimed to serve farmers in the east of the Netherlands the very best coffee. Peeze coffee became famous for its quality and demand grew quickly, prompting the brothers to start a professional coffee roasting business.

Now, 136 years later, quality is still Peeze’s prime concern and sustainable chain one of the company’s core values. “We’re always looking for new ways to become more sustainable and we keep a close eye on what other pioneers in the business are doing,” says managing director Timmo Terpstra. “We stay ahead of the game by focusing on sustainability and continually taking steps to improve in that respect.”

Pooling knowledge
These days, Peeze Coffee Roasters supplies more than just coffee. The company’s reasoning is that premium ingredients deserve good preparation, which requires good equipment. That’s why Peeze also sells coffee machines and accessories to both businesses and consumers.

Uncomfortable with the environmental impact of aluminum single-serve coffee capsules, Peeze started developing an alternative. In January 2015, after four years of R&D, Peeze was ready to present the results: biobased coffee capsules.

“To develop this innovation we pooled knowledge with a number of business partners,” says Terpstra. “We collaborated with ATI (Advanced Technology Innovations). We had to contend with as many as 1,700 patents while also overcoming difficult technological challenges. After several ups and downs, we were able to begin selecting the materials, developing the capsules and designing the high-tech filling line we needed. We spent 2014 and 2015 running tests and making adjustments. Finally, in January 2015, we were able to do a first production run.”

Three components
Peeze’s innovative coffee capsules are based on new technology. The capsules are made from a triple layer of injection-molded biobased polylactic acid (PLA). Because this material is not as heat-resistant as petroleum-based plastics, engineers had to modify the moulds and the injection equipment. The PLA itself had to be altered for use in the production line and made resistant to the hot water temperatures in coffee machines. These modifications had to leave the PLA’s compostability and oxygen-barrier properties intact, the latter being important to preserve the coffee’s quality.

The second component requiring redesign was the foil used to seal the capsules. In existing capsules, this is made of aluminum because it punctures easily in the coffee machine, allowing the coffee to drip through. Neither petroleum-based nor biobased plastics are easy to puncture. Therefore they function poorly in Nespresso-type coffee machines. Neither of these materials is oxygen-proof either. This is why Peeze and its partners developed a triple-layered biobased foil, with one layer perforated by an ultra-fine laser so the coffee machine’s water pressure can puncture it.

The third important component in the new capsules is the coffee itself. Peeze knows from experience how important coffee roasting, grinding and handling during production are. Grinding, for instance, must deliver a very homogeneous ground coffee and the capsules must be filled under modified atmosphere (nitrogen). To this end, the company and its partners developed a special filling line. And to complete the social responsibility picture, Peeze uses fair trade, sustainably produced Arabica coffee.

Market potential
Peeze expects the market potential of its innovations to be huge. “Worldwide, people use 10-12 billion coffee capsules per year,” Timmo Terpstra says. “Our innovation will appeal to a wide audience and addresses an issue that is close to consumers’ hearts. They can save mountains of packaging material while still enjoying a great cup of coffee. Used capsules can simply be thrown into the organic waste bin. Both the coffee and the capsule are fully compostable, closing the cradle-to-cradle loop.”

Food Valley Award
At the Food Valley Expo it was announced that Peeze’s biobased coffee capsules won the 2015 Food Valley Award. The Food Valley Award judges’ panel said this about the biobased coffee capsules: “We were impressed with this innovation, which provides a high-quality, sustainable alternative for a widely-used product with a huge and growing global market. Peeze created this unique and socially responsible alternative by collaborating with inventive partners and combining new technology with renewable resources. Peeze has succeeded in delivering an excellent cup of coffee that meets consumers’ desire for convenience while contributing to the circular economy.”

This is the 11th year that Food Valley NL has presented the Food Valley Award. An independent panel of experts judged the entries on their innovativeness, economic viability, originality and degree of collaboration. The other nominees considered for this year’s prize were the energy-efficient scalding process for defeathering poultry developed by Marel Stork Poultry Processing, and the technology to extract pectin from coffee bean pulp developed by Pectcof.

Food Valley Award Winner 2015, Peeze Coffee Roasters from FV TV on Vimeo.

Peeze Coffee Roasters