Encapsulating Melbourne’s famous specialty coffee scene

Melbourne is known for its love of coffee, so it’s no surprise a couple of guys from the world’s (unofficial) coffee capital have decided to raise the bar when it comes to coffee capsules.

It was over a coffee in Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Lane that two schoolyard mates came up with the idea to put some of Melbourne’s best coffee into capsules. “I was enjoying a delicious coffee at one of my favourite cafés, and started lamenting the pod coffee I’d be drinking back at the office later that afternoon”, recalls then-lawyer, Dan McQuinn. With a history working in specialty coffee, Dan knew how good coffee could be, and it was then and there that he and co-founder Wayne Harrison decided to take the plunge and start experimenting with specialty coffee capsules.

“We had a really great relationship with Commonfolk Coffee’s Director of Coffee, Ryan Toleman, and he jumped at the opportunity to experiment with pods”, Dan says. After over 12 months’ trial and error, and countless coffees consumed by the three at Commonfolk’s Mornington Peninsula roastery and café, they have managed to develop two varieties of single origin capsules, from Brazil and Colombia.

The pair claim their coffee is the closest to café quality coffee to ever come out of a capsule. “We couldn’t have done it without the team at Commonfolk, and Ryan’s enthusiasm is one of the key reasons we achieved such amazing flavour profiles from our capsules. It really could pass as an espresso from your favourite café!” says Dan.

The team say their mission is to ensure anyone can have the best quality coffee, regardless of the brewing method – following the mantra that “convenience shouldn’t have to come at the expense of quality”. Commonfolk Coffee buys their coffee directly (and ethically) from the farmers, and it is all specialty grade. The coffee is then small batch roasted and then quickly ground and packed into airtight capsules to maintain freshness.

It’s been a long road, but Flinders Lane Specialty Coffee is now stocked in over twenty supermarkets around Australia and has an growing online presence. The duo are now working to develop a third product, which will likely make use of new compostable capsule technology. “Our capsules are made of PBT plastic, and therefore recyclable if you empty the coffee and remove the lid, which was really the best option for us when we started. But our next product should be even better for the environment – they’ll biodegrade completely within 6 months”, Dan says. In the meantime, recyclable capsules are a step up environmentally from the aluminium-lined pods offered by some of the bigger brands, and offer a superior brew to many alternatives, according to the team.

Dan & Wayne are now working to establish a bigger presence in other states around Australia and ultimately overseas as well: “Melbourne is known around the world for its amazing coffee, and we want to show the world how great coffee can really be, even when it comes out of a capsule” Dan says. Whether they take over the world or not, the two say they’re honoured to have been so well received by their loyal customers to date, and are delighted with the positive feedback. “If nothing else, we’ve helped a few people have better starts to their day when they brew up a Flinders Lane capsule!”, Dan says.

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