‘The pod without the guilt’: Aussie coffee startup goes international

Melbourne-based coffee pod startup Pod & Parcel launched in the United States last week on ecommerce platforms after years of producing local barista-quality coffee in compostable pods.

Managing director Owen Symington said there were risks expanding overseas, but given the market potential and lack of good quality pod coffee in the US, it was a punt worth taking.

The Pod & Parcel team includes Martine Dickman (left) managing director Owen Symington and co-founder Ben Goodman (right).
The Pod & Parcel team includes Martine Dickman (left) managing director Owen Symington and co-founder Ben Goodman (right). Credit:Simon Schluter

The decision to expand offshore was based on growing international demand, he said, with the US estimated to generate half the pod coffee market’s growth worldwide. Nespresso predicts the world’s largest economy will become the number one market for its own brand pods as soon as next year.

Mr Symington hopes the company can capitalise on Australia’s rising reputation as a coffee mecca, joining other Aussie coffee manufacturers breaking into the US market. One company, Bluestone Lane, now has 46 stores across the country.


“Being able to play off our Australian roots carries a weight in the US,” he said. “The US is a less mature market in terms of coffee… and Australia is a world leader in terms of quality”.

We’re really confident that we can replicate the success we’ve had in Australia.

Owen Symington

Pod & Parcel started in Melbourne in 2015 when its founders Ben Goodman, Jai Felinski and Elliot Haramboulas decided there was a market for barista-quality coffee in compostable pods.

They were corporate consultants working long hours, drinking lots of pod coffee and finding it tasted like instant coffee.

Goodman said the trio put everything on the line to start the business. “We bootstrapped the company for two years with our own money, quit our full-time jobs and left our careers to pursue the dream of growing the business into a global coffee brand,” he said.

With the environmental impact of coffee pods becoming a big issue, the founders decided to tap the rise in eco-conscious consumerism to offer “the convenience of the pod without the guilt,” Mr Symington said.

The pods in Pod & Parcel are made from bio-based polymer, a type of eco-friendly plastic that is less reliant on fossil fuels, produces no toxic waste in compost and has lower cO2 emissions.

But there is also the quality of the coffee in the pods which is a point of difference, Mr Symington claims. The Arabica coffee is sourced from roasters in Brunswick that guarantee its specialty grade and rates above 80 on the official 100-point specialty coffee grading scale.

Mr Symington said finding the right coffee that works in pods was a system of trial and error. “A lot of people think that any coffee will go in it.”

First America, then the world

Over the past year, Pod & Parcel’s sales have more than quadrupled, from $70,000 in October 2018 to $300,000 in the same month this year.  Mr Symington said the business is now generating sales of $3.5 million a year and making a net profit of $350,000.

Following its expansion to the US, Pod & Parcel is hoping to earn a total of $1 million by the middle of next year.

After cracking the US, the plan is to move into New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Mr Symington said Asia was another area of interest given the growing appetite to find sustainable alternatives to everyday items.

“We’re really confident that we can replicate the success we’ve had in Australia… we’re going in with our eyes wide open.”

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