Single-cup coffee with a sustainable twist

The way consumers consume coffee today — one cup at a time rather than brewing an entire pot — has evolved in response to the introduction of new applications and equipment. The trend accelerated and became more complicated as a result of the pandemic, when many consumers began working from home and developed a taste for barista-quality coffee.

One such complication for environmentally conscious consumers was the plastic waste generated by conventional coffee pods. This increased demand for eco-friendly single-serve options such as pour-over and tea-bag applications, presenting an opportunity for NuZee Inc. of Plano, Texas.

NuZee is a co-packer of coffees for pour-over and tea-bag machines. The company is headquartered in the United States of America, South Korea, and Mexico.

According to 2022 consumer research from the National Coffee Association (NCA), New York, coffee consumption has increased to a two-decade high as Americans maintain COVID routines developed during the pandemic. Sixty-six percent of Americans now consume coffee on a daily basis, more than any other beverage, including tap water, and has increased by nearly 14 percent since January 2021, the largest increase since the NCA began tracking data.

Coffee consumption in the home has remained above pre-pandemic levels. Around 84 percent of coffee drinkers now have coffee at home, up from 80 percent in January 2020. Picky drinkers expect a new cup each time.

“Single-serve pour-over coffee is one of the best ways to enjoy fresh coffee at home,” said Tomoko Toyota, chief marketing officer at NuZee. She joined the company less than a year ago after spending 13 years at Starbucks, where she was a member of the team responsible for launching and managing the Starbucks Origami single-serve pour-over coffee products available in Japan. “And eco-friendly single-serve coffee is one of the fastest-growing segments of the coffee industry.”

After bursting onto the mainstream coffee scene more than a decade ago, the rapid growth of single-cup brewing systems such as the Keurig slowed prior to the pandemic; however, single-cup brewing remains the second-most popular brewing method in the United States, behind drip. Single-serve coffee pods now account for 37% of all coffee consumed, up 15% from 2013. By comparison, 41% of coffee drinkers rely on a drip coffee maker, 9% on cold brew, and 8% on espresso machines.

New challenges for coffee companies are being created by shifting values and expectations. This is where NuZee comes in. The co-packer focuses on environmentally friendly single-serve coffee brewing solutions. The pour-over method is portable, requires less plastic, and uses only the amount of water intended for consumption. Compostable filter bag format; recyclable foil wrappers for both formats.

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