Revolver co-operative is launching two new Fairtrade coffee products in time for Christmas.
Chief executive Paul Birch says the new lines – organic, biodegradable coffee capsules and decaffeinated ground coffee – represent the organisation’s commitment to ethical coffee sourcing and the environment.
“Our coffee capsules are believed to be the first completely 100% biodegradable capsules,” he said.
“The Fairtrade, organic, biodegradable capsules are made of a food grade corn starch – to the touch it feels like polymer, but it’s actually a porous membrane developed specifically to be compatible with Nespresso machines.
“They will compost in three to six months in home composting – which gives the green light to many people who have been considering a Nespresso machine but had concerns about the waste.”
If they are not recycled, aluminium Nespresso pods will sit in landfills for around 200 years. In February, the German city of Hamburg banned coffee pods from state-run buildings as part of an environmental drive to reduce waste.
Ethical Consumer gives Nestle – owners of Nespresso – an ethical rating of two out of 20 – and Mr Birch says it was “lucky” to get that.
But he says the Revolver decided to enter the Nespresso market because its pods mean people who are thinking about getting a coffee machine – or receive one for Christmas – now have a choice they didn’t have before.
“Nestle have dominated the coffee market since WWII,” he adds. “They made massive profits, some of which were folded back into research and development.
“They have around five different capsule systems, but Nespresso is the front runner in terms of demand. Unfortunately for them – but good news for us – it took so long to develop that come the launch, they only had a short window before the patent expired.
“There are several other brands now selling Nespresso capsules, but these are the first Fairtrade organic Nespresso capsules that are 100% biodegradable. Nestle themselves have a ‘return to base’ system where they have a disposal method, but even that adds to additional carriage and miles.”
Revolver’s capsules contain 10% more coffee than regular Nespresso capsules, and come in a unique resealable tins of 20 with a 24-month shelf life.
In a first for Revolver, the tin will prominently feature the International Co-operative Alliance’s COOP logo.
“We are giving it centre ground in branding terms,” added Mr Birch. “We feel this is the right introduction for the COOP logo on food packaging, as it reflects the Fairtrade principles held dear by the co-operative movement.”
A smaller version of the COOP logo appears on all Revolver packs and in the future this will change to similarly prominent positions.
The other new line, Swiss Water-processed 100% Arabica Fairtrade organic coffee, is the co-op’s first venture into decaf.
“This is a Colombian coffee processed for us in Vancouver, Canada, at the only plant in the world that uses the Swiss Water decaffeination method,” said Mr Birch.
“Swiss Water processing avoids the use of Isopropyl alcohol or any other chemical extraction, so you get all the taste of regular Arabica coffee but without the bad taste and without health risks.”
The Swiss Water method allows decaffeination without flavour loss by extracting the caffeine from green coffee beans by soaking them in very hot water.
This creates caffeine-free but flavourless beans – but the water left behind is is full of flavour. This water is used to extract the caffeine from a fresh batch of beans but leaves their flavour intact.
The now caffeine-saturated green coffee extract is then processed through activated charcoal to remove the caffeine, becoming caffeine-free again ready to prepare a new batch.
- Revolver decaf is available now (£7 for 227g/8oz). Revolver Fairtrade Organic Biodegradable Nespresso capsules (£5.99 for a pack of 20) is available for pre-order, to be shipped on 12 December.