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Capsul’In reveals what’s next

From the September 2015 issue.

Capsul’In Director Laurent Lombart is intent on making capsule technology available to all players in the industry, regardless of their size.

The history of single serve coffee is dotted with names of innovators.

Somewhere on the list belongs Laurent Lombart, whose key distinction in the industry has been to operate as one of the great agitators and democratisers of single serve technology.

Capsul’In entered the single serve market at the beginning of this decade with his do-it-yourself capsule kits – packs of empty Nespresso-compatible capsules that could be filled with coffee of the end user’s choice, then sealed with adhesive aluminium lids and used like a regular capsule.

“That was the first product of its kind on the market – it was a do-it-yourself solution for artisan coffee roasters who wanted to sell their own coffee with Nespresso-compatible capsules,” Lombart tells GCR Magazine. “The mission has always been the same for our company – that is to assist all coffee roasters to access the single serve coffee market,” he says.

Things have come a long way since Capsul’In first entered the market, Lombart says.

For one thing, the Nespresso format is no longer protected by patent.

“It has not been a walk in the park, especially at the beginning when we decided to go into this business,” Lombart says, pointing out that Nespresso was not ready to give up their patent easily.

“The biggest challenge we had going into this business was to convince the coffee roasters to move the Nespresso name in their SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] from the threat category to the opportunities,” he tells us.

Just three years after the patents expired, and with just about every serious roaster at least attempting to put a single serve offering out into the market, these concerns seem almost unfathomable. But at the time they were very real, Lombart says.

“At the beginning, all coffee roasters were looking at Nespresso as a threat, but we had to convince that this was an opportunity that would allow them to sell better quality coffee and reach a much larger potential market by doing so.”

Lombart’s vision has paid off, with Capsul’In now one of the leading manufacturers of Nespresso compatible capsules in the world.

The company now supplies roasters all around the world, with a presence in Europe, America, Africa and Australia.

Lombart tells us that he has always had a lot of respect for the company who revolutionised the single serve segment and whose capsule format is now one of the most used in the world.

“We really look at Nespresso as the market leader in what they’ve done, and they’ve done a great thing for the coffee market in general – they’ve made people speak about the quality of coffee and they’ve made the press speak about coffee – they’ve done a lot of good things for the coffee industry,” he says.

Now that the company is established and the single serve format has proved it is here to stay, Lombart is focused on continuing his company’s mission.

“The capsule is just the tip of the iceberg – what we bring is a solution for coffee roasters to develop and to protect their market position,” he says. “We try to provide them with all of the services they need to produce the perfect cup at the end.”

In order to achieve this, Capsul’In now has a complete testing facility that can be used by its customers to perfect their offering, including a filling machine, grinder and roasters.

“Coffee roasters can come to our site and test their own coffee in our capsules and learn how to adjust the different parameters in order to get the results they want in the cup, and then they can take that back to their own facilities,” Lombart says.

While coffee capsules are no longer a new technology, Lombart says there is still huge potential in the format.

“If we speak about just coffee capsules, I believe we will see at least double-digit annual growth for the next five or ten years,” he says.

“But if we speak about the capsule generally, then I think that the way we drink coffee now will be the way we drink soda in the future and the way people will get their food supplements, so these new applications for the capsule will become extremely popular in the next few years.”

Like other players in the industry, Lombart is acutely aware of the sustainability concerns that have plagued the single serve market since it hit the mainstream.

That is why Capsul’In has dedicated itself to finding a solution – a fully compostable capsule that it intends to be ready for the market by the end of 2015.

However, Lombart says that the company is intent on putting forth an offering that does not compromise their standards.

“The most important benchmark that we have set internally is for what we call the zero impact capsule,” he says.

“This means zero impact on the environment, zero impact in terms of compatibility, zero impact on the result in cup, and last but not least – zero impact on price.”

While Capsul’In is preparing to release its own solution to this problem, Lombart says that this is an issue that the industry as a whole cannot afford to ignore.

“In the future, say in five years from now, I really hope that we will have only compostable capsules on the market,” he says.

“If we reach all of our objectives in terms of zero impact, there is no reason why we could not switch the entire production into compostable capsules.”

And with his typical zeal for thinking one step ahead, Lombart is already planning the next big thing – fully customised capsules.

“Today you differentiate your blends by colour, tomorrow you will differentiate your varieties by putting whatever you want on the capsule – colour, name, picture.”

Lombart says Capsul’In’s customisable capsules will be available in 2016, with the same options becoming available for compostable capsules soon after that.

“This customised capsule is a way for us to propose a completely individual capsule for our clients and partners,” he says. GCR

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