While you can brew coffee, add it to a thermos and take it with you, it doesn’t taste the same as a fresh cup, claims STIRZ Brands founder Carl Pion, who is selling his edible pouches in packs of 12 in compostable packaging made from bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane processing.
“The quality of travel mugs has really improved and most will maintain the heat level for up to six hours, but what people fail to realize is that it also continues to cook whatever’s inside. After a while, the coffee starts tasting bitter and old. With our pouches, you drop them in just as you’re ready to enjoy it, and stir.
“We’re also targeting people that are boiling water out in the wilderness [because they’re out for more than a few hours] rather than bringing a thermos of coffee with them," added Pion.
And if you think he's going after a niche market, think again, said Pion: "Millions of Americans go hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing and hunting; 77 million Americans go camping at least once a year and the average American drinks 3.2 cups of coffee a day." [Editor's note: According to the National Coffee Association, per capita coffee consumption is 2 cups per day (drinkers and non drinkers), while coffee drinkers consume 3.2 cups per day]
'People are really looking for convenience and taste but they are also interested in sustainability'
While outdoor enthusiasts, office workers, truckers, or anyone who enjoys coffee on the move can buy single-serve packs of instant coffee, they generate packaging waste, and don’t deliver what most Americans would consider to be a premium experience, claimed Pion, who is launching direct to consumer before approaching sports retail/outdoor pursuits retailers.
“A low percentage of Americans drink instant coffee, but you’re starting to see companies that are elevating the experience with premium products, and the market is growing. So I started joining all these facebook groups of campers and hikers and I surveyed them about edible pouches. We were very open about this being an edible, food grade polymer film – we’re not here to hide anything - and more than 80% were interested in buying this kind of product.
“People are really looking for convenience and taste but they are also interested in sustainability.”
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Colorless, tasteless, odorless film
The coffee is packaged in a water soluble edible film from food grade polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), a colorless, odorless and tasteless substance that dissolves completely upon contact with water and has been gaining traction in the sports nutrition market as a mess-free, scoop-free, way to package protein powders (see box below).
The film is supplied by Monosol - which received a no questions letter from the FDA regarding its generally recognized as safe (GRAS) determination for the film last year – and is not metabolized by the body, passing straight through the digestive tract.
It does not contaminate the recycling stream or contribute to micro-plastic pollution, noted Pion, who is distinguishing light, medium, and dark roast options with different colored leaves printed on the pouches with edible inks.
Early adopters of PVOH edible packaging such as VADE Nutrition, Podz Nutritionand SERV Nutrition (Prodrop) have introduced dissolvable protein pre-workout packs or protein drops which are convenient, pre-portioned and mess-free (no more scoops and tubs).
Hot chocolate, oatmeal, pasta...
While his initial focus is on coffee, Pion - who is based in Toronto - is already looking at other applications for the edible films including hot chocolate, tea, oatmeal, pastas and other foods and beverages enabling consumers to cut packaging waste, boost convenience, and engage in portion control.
Read more about edible packaging HERE.