It’s lovely when design and sustainability intersect, which is the case with Terra Kaffe’s super-automatic, podless espresso machine, which has offset the use of more than one million single-serve pods to date. And now, the brand has just secured $4 million in funding through a partnership with The Seed Lab, a consumer venture-capital fund based in New York.
Home coffee preparation has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for single-cup brewing solutions is up by 50% since 2018, and 79% of Americans now prepare coffee in their homes on a daily basis (National Coffee Association).
And while the single-serve industry touts it progress on pod compostability frequently, there hasn’t been a real game-changing breakthrough in some time. As is well-documented, single-serve espresso pods are one of the biggest unnecessary contributors to the single-use plastics piling up in landfills, a shameful environmental legacy of one segment of the contemporary coffee industry.
“Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet,” said John Hocevar, the campaign director of Greenpeace USA, an environmental nonprofit organization. “Many end up getting incinerated, dumping poison into our air, water and our soil.” Terra Kaffe offers a more sustainable alternative to single-serve — without the use of plastic pods and in an attractive Bauhaus-inspired machine. The TK-01 allows users to select the beans they want and brew an espresso with the touch of a button in a matter of minutes.
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Founded by Sahand Dilmaghani in 2019, Terra Kaffe was intended to combine the best of European coffee culture with the entrepreneurial spirit of the U.S. startup scene.
Disclaimer: I have not tested this machine and evaluated it for brewing quality, but I am interested in this technology and hope to report back on this machine’s functionality soon. Another encouraging piece of news: The average price-point for a traditional super-automatic espresso machine is around $2,000, while Terra Kaffe’s inaugural TK-01 machine goes for $775.
The Seed Lab’s founding partner Stephen Ippolito and his team are attentive to the values of Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. Ippolito says, “As the representative of millennials and Gen-Z at the Seed Lab, I enjoy working closely with young founders who are focused on products that my friends and I would actually want to buy. Terra Kaffe is exactly that kind of business. Sahand is as laser-focused on the details as he is on the bigger picture, and we work very well together on both ends of that spectrum.”
Dilmaghani adds, “From big-picture ideation to going into the weeds on day-to-day execution, accelerating the business to new heights through partnerships to slowing things down and focusing on building the foundation — Stephen and I work through it all. Every beat is a little bit different, resulting in increasingly agility. It is a relationship that is incredibly responsive, but also proactive, and grounded in trust. We move fast, check our egos, don’t always agree, but always engage each other productively.”
This is a recipe for positive developments coming out of this partnership.