Making Nespresso compatible coffee and hot chocolate pods
I PULL on a hair net and a fluoro coat and step into a very noisy factory.
It’s a little cold, and as I round the corner of a box-like room,
the sweetest smell hits me. Now I could be in an apple packing warehouse
or a bakery, but I’m at Podpac HQ, the Australian owned and operated
manufacturer of Nespresso compatible pods. They’re in the throes of
brewing up some hot chocolate goodness, and boy, can’t you smell it!
think I’ve tried every kind of hot chocolate available,” groans Toby
Strong, CEO of Podpac — but his efforts are well worth it. Podpac have
managed to produce the world’s first Nespresso compatible hot chocolate
range. Their hot chocolate pods, like the coffee pods before them, are
specially designed to withstand the 19 bars of pressure a Nespresso
machine uses, and retain a smooth, creamy taste.
It’s not easy for a pod to get to this stage, though. Any pod
made by Podpac has to go through no less than a dozen processes before
being packaged into a supermarket-ready box, ready to be sold under the
brand name PODiSTA.
“We have one production line, but we need
two,” Mr Strong explains, indicating to a specially modified U-shaped
machine which produces 240 pods per minute. At capacity, this machine
can produce a staggering 120 million pods per year.
outgrown this space within four months, it has been phenomenal,” he says
— and that growth is only set to rise with the introduction of a
sugar-free pod range for kids.
Since launching in late 2013, Podpac have sold over 8 million
pods from their headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia. If you are
one of the 1.4 million Australians who own a Nespresso machine, you’ll
probably have a bit of an idea as to why this is, too.
neatly squeezed themselves into a market full of frustrated buyers, who
can only purchase Nespresso pods from one of the 12 boutiques across
Australia or through Nespresso’s website.
But since Nespresso’s
patents ran out, the pod business has become anyone’s game — and readily
stepping up to the mark is Podpac. And while they might have the
world’s first hot chocolate pod range as a point of difference, is it
really possible to produce a caffeinated brew to rival Nespresso’s?
“Our pods are made especially for the Australian palette, to go with milk,” explains Mr Strong.
found from consumer research that a lot of people were saying other
pods they’d tried were too weak, because over in Europe, they drink
their coffee straight. Here, it’s diluted with milk, so the coffee
itself has to be stronger. Flavour intensity is the real issue, and we
don’t just benchmark ourselves against other pods — we look at cafes,
Taking this into account, Podpac’s coffee PODiSTA pods have
been crafted from a painstakingly-chosen blend of beans from all over
the world, and then roasted to consumer perfection in Australia. The
beans are then packed into a special pod design, which not only dodges
all of Nespresso’s trademarking stipulations, but produces smooth,
“For Nespresso, their trademarks revolve around the shape and the piercing of their pod,” Mr Strong says.
first person to try out a compatible pod once the patent expired was
actually the ex-director of Nespresso. We looked at what he did and what
other people were doing, and developed our pod from that. We looked at a
peel off aluminium top to keep the coffee fresh, but oxygen still
permeated. It was trial and error.
“We settled on a pod which has a
base that collapses under the pressure of the Nespresso machine, that
doesn’t get pierced like other pods do. It’s fully sealed so there’s no
need for individual wrapping and wastage. The pods are foil wrapped
collectively in a container that’s half the size of most other brands,
and it has a 24 month shelf life.”
Considering the PODiSTA range hasn’t even been on the market
for a year, their success and their growth are certainly impressive —
and prove that making something in Australia was indeed an achievable
dream for 31-year-old Strong.
“I was told time and time again just
to continue having our products made offshore,” he explains. “Many
potential investors just didn’t feel comfortable investing millions of
dollars in local manufacturing.
“I am a big believer in local
manufacturing. To keep our economy strong retailers and consumers must
take this issue more seriously and support Australian made products.
Buying Australian means you can take comfort in the knowledge that you
are likely receiving a better made product and you can feel proud about
supporting local business.”
Podpac’s PODiSTA range is now sold in Woolworths, Harvey
Norman, The Good Guys, Spotlight and IGA, and is distributed overseas in
countries like New Zealand and Singapore. But most importantly? It just
PODiSTA’s hot chocolate pods retail for $5.99 for a box of 10; coffee pods are $4.99 for a box of 10.
Read More: Nespresso Coffee Pod Filling Sealing Machine