Single-serve Coffee Balls touted as compostable alternative to pods
Single-use, single-serve coffee "pods" are definitely not eco-friendly, which is why refillable pods have been created. Swiss company CoffeeB is taking a different approach, however, with its fully compostable Coffee Balls.
Designed specifically for use in CoffeeB's countertop Globe machine, each single-serve Coffee Ball is made of compressed ground coffee beans, encapsulated within a seaweed-derived outer casing. The blend and roast type are laser-etched onto that casing, which is claimed to be food-safe, transparent and flavorless.
As long as it's kept dry at room temperature or in the fridge, each ball should last for up to three months after its package has been opened.
Once it's placed in the Globe machine, the Coffee Ball is initially moistened with water, in order to soften the hard-packed coffee within. The machine then pierces the outer casing, injects more water, and squeezes the ball. The extracted coffee is subsequently brewed at a pressure of 7 to 12 bar (102 to 174 psi), then dispensed into the user's cup with the pull of a lever.
When retrieved from the machine and placed in a home compost heap, the spent Coffee Ball will reportedly completely biodegrade within four weeks. By contrast, existing pods made of biodegradable plastic may take several months to fully break down.
It should be noted that the coffee beans used in the balls are certified organic and free-trade – eight blends are currently offered. The machine is also made partially of recycled materials, and has a modular design to facilitate the repair or replacement of individual parts as needed.
Worldwide availability of the system has yet to be determined. Once it is on the international market, the Globe machine should retail for 169 Swiss francs (about US$172), with a nine-pack of the Coffee Balls going for 4.60 ($4.66).