ELMSFORD, NY -- More and more businesses serviced by OCS and vending are seeking to reduce their environmental footprints by adopting eco-friendly policies, a trend that Barrie House Coffee Co. Inc. does not take lightly. The roaster has engineered its own line of recyclable single-serve coffee and tea capsules to meet its exacting brewing standards and environmental concerns. The new single-serve format began rolling off its state-of-the-art production line at the company's expanded facility in Elmsford, NY, in October.
The 80-year-old roaster relocated from Yonkers, NY, to nearby Elmsford last spring to accommodate production of the portion packs and the growth in demand Barrie House anticipates for them.
photo | NEXT BIG THING: Fourth generation roasters David and Edward Goldstein foresee big demand for Barrie House's new custom-designed brew-by-pack capsules that began rolling off the production line at its new Elmsford, NY, facility last month.
"Single-cup packs that are compatible with Keurig brewers are the biggest growth area in office coffee service," said Barry House chief executive David Goldstein, a fourth-generation member of the family business. "Our capsules raise the bar on coffee quality and sustainability, which positions us well to gain market share in this growing category.
"We didn't need to be first to market, but we wanted to be the best," Goldstein added. "To craft great coffee, we knew we had to craft great capsules that make people say 'wow!'"
The roaster recognized, as the single-cup revolution gained momentum, that Keurig K-Cup-compatible packages would be the next big opportunity, once Green Mountain's patent for the proprietary portion-packs expired.
Rather than selecting from the existing packages going head-to-head with the K-Cup, the roaster set out to engineer its own capsule that would strike the perfect balance among ideal coffee volume, time and pressure to produce consistently exceptional coffee.
The result, according to Goldstein, is a line of capsules for its signature coffees that can achieve the Specialty Coffee Association of America Gold Cup brewing standard. The single-serve foil-lidded plastic cups allow for 20% to 30% more ground roast coffee than traditional K-Cups, and permit enhanced water flow to produce a bigger cup with bolder flavor.
The Single-Cup Eco Pod
"The nice thing is that we don't have to reeducate anyone," said business development manager Edward Goldstein. "Everyone knows the concept of how to use a Keurig machine and K-Cup."
The Barrie House manager, David's cousin and another a fourth-generation family member, observed that the company's reputation has accelerated acceptance of the new format. "We've seen a lot of interest in a more cost-effective and higher quality alternative," he told VT, "and we're seeing a lot of traction with customers who know our brand, like it and want something different and even better. We see our capsules as a whole new level; we feel we can fit right on the top."
Another factor differentiating the Barrie House capsule from many competing Keurig-compatible packs is its eco-friendly design and composition. Following more than three years of research and development sourcing materials and suppliers, Barrie House decided on a recyclable cup with two peelable lids for easy removal of the compostable grounds and filter.
Its original concept included a biodegradable cup, but after further analysis, the roaster determined that the composition would potentially be less "earth-friendly" than a recyclable plastic. "Bioplastic needs an industrial composting system at the right temperature and conditions," explained David Goldstein. "A biodegradable capsule sounds great, but it would likely end up in conventional landfills that do not have the right conditions to break down bioplastics. So we came back to recycling as the best way to go, to substantially reduce the impact on the environment by keeping the plastic polymer in circulation by reusing it multiple times."
The roaster selected a #2 recyclable plastic made from a combination of materials, including an oxygen scavenger that protect the integrity of the contents and ensure an optimal flavor. Inside is a custom-weave, high-yield biodegradable filter made from natural fibers. The lidding material is crafted from high-barrier recyclable aluminum, and the capsules are packed in boxes made with at least 35% post-consumer recyclable paperboard.
To dispose of brewed Barrie House capsules in an eco-friendly way, users can simply let them cool and then peel back the tab to separate the top and bottom lids to remove the compostable filter and coffee grounds. The capsules, lids and boxes can then be discarded wherever these recyclables are accepted. "It's an extra step, but it's easy and it does not upset the simplicity of brewing delicious coffee while providing a sustainable solution," said Ed Goldstein.
The capsules are launching in 10 coffee varieties, many of which are organically grown and fair trade sourced: Breakfast Blend, Colombia Reserve, Decaf Classic, Donut Shop Blend, French Roast, French Vanilla, House Blend Extra Bold, Jamaican Me Crazy, Sumatra Kopi Gr-1 and Ultimate Hazelnut. They're packed 24 per box, each of which features a description of the coffee's flavor profile, a map showing its origin and a numeric "intensity meter." Also featured on each carton are "tasting notes" that help the drinker experience the nuances of each coffee, such as "smooth, tangy, mellow, toasted, nuts, cereal, red grapefruit, tropical fruits," for Breakfast Blend.
Rounding out the new line are four Harney & Sons-brand teas, offered through an exclusive partnership with the high-end tea company.
Barrie House plans to quickly enlarge its capsule menu with six more coffee varieties, along with hot chocolate and other soluble products. The roaster will also offer private-label capsules.
"As a roaster, single-cup gives us control over the quality of the brewed product," Ed Goldstein said. "With our capsules, we can ensure quality and consistency with the same nuances and characteristics in every cup they drink."
David Goldstein credited many of the company's suppliers for the pivotal roles they played in the key development stages of its capsules. "Barrie House employees from bottom to the top have all had a hand in making our vision a reality," said the Barrie House chief executive. "We couldn't have gotten here without everyone's efforts,"
The single-serve capsules were the catalyst that prompted Barrie House's move to its new headquarters here last May. It had operated out of multiple buildings in Yonkers, also in Westchester County and about 10 miles south, for the past two decades before consolidating and streamlining operations with its move to Elmsford. The new facility provides ample room for the growth Barrie House anticipates, including the addition of several more single-serve capsule lines.
Barrie House's roasting plant remains in Mount Vernon, and all finished goods are packaged, stored and distributed from the new Elmsford headquarters.
Vending and office coffee service represent about 35% of Barrie House's volume, with retail and foodservice comprising the rest of its business. The majority of Barrie House's customers are concentrated east of the Mississippi, but it ships its coffees and teas to customers as far away as California and Texas, and other areas in between.
The family-owned and operated coffee company, located just outside New York City, is now led by both third- and fourth-generation family members and a team of 60 employees.
The company's roots trace back to 1934 when Max Goldstein (David and Edward's great-grandfather) helped establish K&G Coffee. He roasted coffee and supplied it to New York City restaurants, diners and delis, and to Catskills resorts during the busy summer months. His son, Herb, followed in his father's footsteps, growing the business and naming it Barrie House Coffee after his son Barry, David's father.
Barry Goldstein, now board chairman, has worked in the family business for most of his life, along with his brothers Paul (Ed's father), who is president and oversees the company's roasting operations, and chief operating officer Ronald Goldstein. All share ownership of Barrie House.
photo | TEAM WORK: At left, Juliet Sukdeo and Elkhatz Ali team up on fraction pack production line at Barrie House's new state-of-the-art Westchester County facility. At right, Chandra Lawton and Juliet Sudeo head up final phase of packing process where corrugated boxes are sealed.
photo | CREATIVE ENERGY: Collaborating on final package design for Harney & Sons single-serve capsules are Barrie House Web projects manager Lule Dine (l.), director of sales and marketing Shay Zohar and graphic designer Jason Smith.
photo | AT YOUR SERVICE: Barrie House customer care manager Iraida Luna meets with customer care representatives Stuart Kopf, a 30-year Barrie House veteran, and Cheri Nichols.
photo | HANDS ON: Edward (l.) and David Goldstein check in to ensure pod packaging machine is running smoothly. For now, they're keeping Barrie House's new single-serve capsule equipment under wraps.