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Steeped Coffee’s innovative and sustainable brewing method

steeped coffee

California-based Steeped Coffee details an innovative yet simple single-serve brewing method that’s making coffee more accessible, ethical, and sustainable.

The idea for Steeped Coffee started from a common problem: the struggle for travellers to pack light. Serial entrepreneur and self-proclaimed coffee snob Josh Wilbur wanted to enjoy specialty coffee without lugging around a suitcase full of brewing equipment. To alleviate this, he combined the convenience of a single-serving brew method with the premium quality of ethically sourced coffee.

“Josh wanted to redeem the environmental dilemma created by coffee pods, and it seemed like there was a gap in the market for making premium coffee more accessible and a single-serve solution,” says Steeped Coffee Executive Vice President of Sales Evan Dohrmann.

“There are a number of great competitors that have popped up in the years since Steeped Coffee was founded [in 2017], which I think illustrates that other people felt there were similar gaps in the market. We applaud all innovation, and we love the competition because it creates really dynamic single-serve offerings. The more high-quality innovation we can have in the space, the more it forces all of us to continuously refine our offerings and create a better product.”

According to Steeped Coffee, more than 10 billion unrecyclable pods accumulate in landfills each year – enough to wrap around the Earth more than 110 times if placed side-by-side.

“In America, the workplace is a market in which people are consuming filter coffee as the most common method. Single-serve consumption still dominates the landscape, and that’s an area we feel we can provide value in,” Dohrmann says.

It took Wilbur seven years to innovate the proprietary Steeped Coffee system that delivers on several fronts: fresh roasted, pre-portioned, precision ground, micro batched coffee which comes in customised full immersion filters. After hundreds of prototypes, Wilbur invested in a straightforward solution, the Steeped Brew Bag.

Available in five roasts – light, medium, dark, French roast, and a single-origin Swiss water processed decaf – the brew bags are made from commercially compostable packaging, and brew premium coffee as simply as tea.

“Premium coffee roasters have shied away from offering their specialty beans in single-serve packaging because it’s been almost impossible to keep ground coffee fresh, which quickly ruins the taste,” says Dohrmann. “With our nitro sealed bags, oxygen is replaced with nitrogen, so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.”

Due to the convenience of the brewing method, Dohrmann says Steeped Coffee packs are the easiest way to make a delicious cup of coffee.

“You shouldn’t need to perform chemistry before you’ve made your coffee. Simply submerge each Steeped Brew Bag in hot water for about five minutes to allow the coffee to develop its distinctive body and flavour. There is no machine, no noise, no clean up, and no destructive waste,” he says.

Steeped Coffee works with more than 300 premium coffee roasters and has found its brew method to be a successful solution in the hospitality sector, especially in hotel chains.

“Most of our customers seem to really appreciate the work that’s been undertaken to ensure a premium experience is maintained. The work that goes into sourcing and preparing high-quality coffee, and the desire to try to maintain that integrity, has a lot of alignment with our roaster partners as it relates to quality. Beyond that, our roasters value the efforts we undertake to ensure we’re minimising our footprint,” Dohrmann says.

The company’s packaging is crafted from plant-based renewable materials. Dohrmann says that, from the outer box to the inner bag, all components of the product come in an eco-friendly package.

“With each sip, you’re helping us pave the way for a future where coffee and sustainability go hand-in-hand,” says Dohrmann.

The Steeped Brew Bag Method brews coffee in pre-portioned compostable coffee bags.

“At its core, [the Steeped Brew Bag Method] is brilliantly simple – just add water. But what unfolds within the walls of your mug is a complex dance between science and innovation, thanks to the full immersion brewing technique. This approach allows the coffee to reach its full potential while immersed in the water, resulting in maximum flavour extraction that will awaken your taste buds like never before,” he says.

From the careful selection of its beans to the artistry of its brewing method, each step is a celebration of flavour. Steeped Coffee’s full-immersion filter allows maximum extraction to ensure each sip reveals the depth and complexity its curated beans offer.

“It’s a coffee experience unlike any other,” says Dohrmann.

As such, Steeped Coffee, a Certified B Corporation, was included on the Inc. 2023 Best in Business list.

This list recognises 215 companies that focus on purpose before profits, with the goal to make a difference in communities, industries, and the world.

“Steeped Coffee’s inclusion is testament to its revolutionary approach in the coffee industry, offering a unique and sustainable single-serve brew method,” says Steeped Coffee Founder and CEO Wilbur.

By simplifying the brewing process and eliminating plastics, Wilbur says Steeped Coffee has set a new standard in environmental responsibility.
“Selected from a competitive pool, Steeped Coffee was chosen by Inc. for its achievements and positive global impact,” he says.

Wilbur says the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship is particularly notable.

“Receiving recognition from Inc. is an incredible honour. It validates our efforts in transforming the coffee industry through eco-friendly practices. This honour is a powerful motivator for us to continue driving innovation for a greener future,” he says.

The brewing company also partnered with Michelin-starred chef and television personality Curtis Stone to launch a line of craft-roasted specialty coffee. The line features a curated selection of blends and single-origin roasts, showcasing a diverse range of flavour profiles and roast intensities.

“It was a natural evolution to collaborate with Curtis. We’re excited and honoured he decided to explore our brew method as a way for him to introduce more products to more people. We’re hoping to be able to potentially expand that partnership in the future,” says Dohrmann.

“Together, we are introducing a new level of excellence to the coffee industry, combining Curtis’ culinary expertise with our innovative brewing method. We believe this partnership will redefine how people experience specialty coffee.”

Steeped Coffee’s commitment to ethical sourcing ensures every coffee bean in the cup has been grown with respect for both the environment and the farmers who nurture them. One of its partners is the family-owned Flor del Café farm in Guatemala’s Huehuetenango region. The farm actively participates in programs that empower local communities, promote environmental conservation, and enhance the region’s overall wellbeing.

“One of the best aspects of single-serve coffee is its ability to brew just the right amount, minimising any waste that comes along with your morning ritual. Since each bag is pre-portioned for an eight-ounce cup, you can kiss those bleary-eyed, pre-coffee measurements goodbye,” Dohrmann says.

While other methods might run water through coffee, Steeped Brew Bags do things differently.

“Steeped Coffee is all about making a tangible impact, one cup at a time. Our goal over the next few years is to raise customer awareness about our product and purpose,” says Dohrmann.

This article was first published in the March/April 2024 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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