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A Brief History of Coffee Pods

by Invigo Coffee 05 Jul 2021
A Brief History of Coffee Pods

Although coffee pods are now popular worldwide, history shows that wasn’t always the case. As an idea, coffee pods received a lot of criticism from people. 

Many didn’t like the idea of coffee pods because they were already in love with visiting a coffee shop in the morning. Some others were not just ready to accept the new idea of single-serve coffee. 

As it stands, millions of coffee pods get sold every day, and the number keeps increasing. In Canada, more than 2.5 million coffee pods get disposed of every day. That means almost every region in Canada has a substantial coffee pod market. 

Not only is the coffee pods industry thriving, but it's also an innovative industry. Thousands of brands contribute to the creation of coffee pods all over the world. Each one of these brands makes its coffee pods with features to suit different consumers. So the coffee pod you'll buy in Canada may differ from the coffee pod in Australia. 

Regardless of where you're buying coffee pods from, there are still huge criticisms for the product. Most coffee pod critics focus on the impact on the environment because of the materials. Innovation in the industry has birthed biodegradable and compostable coffee pods, with the latter selling up to one billion pods in three years. 

This article will provide a deep analysis of the history of coffee pods. After discussing the past, we will explain how the market has evolved over the years. If you're a lover of the coffee pod, join us on the ride.

History of Coffee Pods

It may sound funny, but the history of coffee pods you know today started as a challenge between two lovers. The challenge may be over 45 years old, but its impact still lives on today. The challenge was between Eric Favre, an engineer at Nestle and his wife, Anna-Maria. Eric Favre was from Switzerland, while his wife was from Italy. 

Anna-Maria always drank Italian coffee and loved the taste. When she tried out the coffee from Switzerland, she wasn't happy. The coffee from Switzerland left a bland taste on the mouth of Anna-Maria. She didn't like the taste, and of course, she confided in her husband. 

Her husband, Eric Favre took action. He needed to find a solution to the lousy tasting coffee for his wife. So he did some research towards creating the ultimate solution to lousy tasting Swiss coffee. 

These actions all form the history of coffee pods. Some of the steps include;

Travelling to Italy -The Italian effect

When you want to create a new product, it's always better to understand the production process. Understanding the production of coffee production was the first step Eric Favre took when he wanted to create coffee pods. 

Since his wife complained about Swiss coffee pods, there was no need to try them out. The best option was to try out Italian coffee, which his wife claimed to be better. 

Eric Favre, the son of an agricultural inventor, moved to Italy for a short period. The primary aim of the relocation to Italy was to understand how Italian coffee was better. If you don't know anything about Italy, know that Italians love coffee. As a result, there are thousands of Italian coffee shops across the country. 

With the high number of coffee shops in Italy, it was a complex task to try out all the coffee shops in the country. Since Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the busiest cities, it was a great place to start. So it's safe to say the story of coffee pods began in Rome. 

Sampling different coffee inquisitively

Eric Favre was not deterred by the number of coffee shops in Rome at the time. He took his time and kept testing the coffee of every single one of these coffee shops. 

Don't forget; he had a wife, Anna-Maria, she was an Italian so she may have helped with directions. So together, they went on testing the coffee shops one by one without stopping.

After trying hundreds of coffee shops, the couple found one shop where they loved the coffee sold. Apparently, it wasn't only the couple who loved the coffee shop; many Italians did. The name of the coffee shop is Café Sant Eustachio, and many Italian natives queued for the coffee here. Till today, Café Sant Eustachio still holds the record of one of the best coffee shops in the whole of Italy. 

Eric Favre and his wife joined many Italian natives in drinking coffee from the coffee shop. It was, without a doubt, the best of all the coffee samples they had consumed since their relocation to Italy. The taste of the coffee from Café Sant Eustachio was how coffee pods started. Eric needed to understand how their coffee was nice. 

Learning from the best

Many people loved the coffee from Café Sant Eustachio and kept buying their coffee from the shop. Eric Favre and his wife loved the coffee from Café Sant Eustachio and drank coffee for some time. But the great taste of the coffee from Café Sant Eustachio didn't make Eric Favre lose the focus. He always remembered his primary goal — to create coffee as good as the coffee from Italy. 

So instead of enjoying the coffee alone, Eric was curiously studying the process. They talked to the consumers, the baristas, staff, and any other person they met at the Café Sant Eustachio. 

The Café Sant'eustachio tried their best to keep their coffee-making process a secret. However, it wasn't long until one of the baristas subconsciously sold the process out. It may have been the barista or Eric's watchful eyes that sold the coffee-making process out. 

Eric noticed other coffee baristas pumped their piston once when it was time to aerate the coffee. But in Café Sant Eustachio, the baristas pumped the piston for aeration more than once. Instead, the baristas pulled the piston for aeration more than three times with short breaks. It was the discovery that inspired Eric to make history with the creation of coffee pods. 

Prototype machine

After Eric Favre saw the baristas pulling the piston more than once, he went on to do more research. First, he knew the piston was there to aerate the coffee. 

But why did the baristas at Café Sant Eustachio pull their piston several times and not once? This question was what Eric needed to find an answer for quickly. 

After a lot of deep research, Eric Favre found out the purpose of pulling the piston several times. Eric found that the introduction of oxygen to the coffee gave it a great aroma and fantastic flavour. Also, when you introduce the oxygen more times, it gives the coffee a better smell. However, he needed to confirm the inference he made from his research. 

Since he was an engineer by training, he needed to create a coffee machine to prove his inference. This coffee machine needs to maintain the same standard as the coffee machine at Café Sant Eustachio. At the same time, this machine needs to be commercial enough to make money through sales. 

Since Eric had found out what he needed in Italy, he had to go back to Switzerland. This time though, he was going home to begin the history of the coffee pods we know today. He went back to Switzerland and made his prototype coffee machine. This machine had all the features of the coffee machine at Café Sant Eustachio. 

The machine he created became the first Nespresso coffee machine. The machine came with cylinders and tubes to force water through the coffee pod. The prototype coffee machine came to life in 1975. 

Coffee Pod Creation

Like we mentioned earlier, Eric Favre worked as an engineer with Nestle through the creation of the coffee machine. He patented the idea in 1975 after creating it but collaborated with Nestle to develop the coffee pod. Eric Favre played a massive role in the creation of the coffee pod from the company.

If you remember from the history of coffee pods in Italy, Eric saw the baristas pumping the piston for aeration several times. He researched and found that air in the coffee influenced an excellent aroma and flavour on the coffee. 

With this finding, he created a coffee pod with air trapped within the pod. When you use these coffee pods with a machine, the end product is frothy, delicious coffee. So when you buy coffee pods today, always remember Eric Favre. 

Creating his firm

Eric Favre had his struggles with his parent company, Nestle, which we will discuss subsequently. Some five years after the coffee pod came into being, Eric Favre left Nestle. He had a burning passion for making suitable coffee capsules for different audiences. He went ahead to start his firm, Monodor S.A.

He has created many other companies for the manufacturing of coffee pods globally. Eric Favre didn't stop impacting the coffee pod market even with his company. Apart from creating a large variety of his initial coffee pod, he kept making new coffee pod innovations. So Eric Favre has had an enormous influence on the coffee pod market.

The first coffee pod Eric Favre created has aluminum as one of the manufacturing materials. When disposed of, aluminum is a danger to the environment. Sometimes, an entire aluminum coffee pod may need up to five centuries before it decomposes. The impact of aluminum coffee pods on the environment was worrisome to Eric Favre. 

He had to change the manufacturing material of the coffee pod to polypropylene. After the change, he kept making changes to improve the existence of coffee pods. 

Consumer Reaction to Coffee Pods

Like we have mentioned, the coffee pod may be popular today, but it wasn't first accepted at the start. All the while Eric Favre was researching and making the coffee pod, people loved ground coffee. Everyone was comfortable visiting a coffee shop to get their favourite coffee. 

It was a rough ride for Eric Favre and everyone who believed in the idea of a coffee pod. The first challenge was convincing people about owning their coffee machine. The typical process was visiting a coffee shop to take coffee; why did consumers buy a coffee machine? This was the first hurdle in the history of coffee pods after its creation in 1986. 

Another was the high price of the coffee machine Eric Favre created when marketing. Let's assume you manage to convince a prospect of why to buy the machine; why is it expensive? Why do I need to pay so much for a coffee machine when I don't own a shop? These questions are examples of what the early marketers of the coffee machine faced. 

There were many other events in the history of coffee pods that deterred the process. They include rejection, legal battles, amongst others. Let's take a look at these events 

Nestle Struggle

We cannot possibly analyze the history of coffee pods without knowledge of the technical and business aspects of the company. However, Eric Favre's position and expertise were not enough to push his prototype machine through quickly. 

After he had created the machine, Eric Favre, took the right step by taking his device to his bosses at Nestle. The presentation of his idea came at a time when Nestle had just released an instant coffee. Nestle instant coffee was doing fantastic in the market and was bringing in great numbers as profit. As usual, the bosses had most of their focus on the product because of its success. 

When Eric Favre approached his bosses, they weren't ready to listen to him. There was no way Eric could convince his bosses about the machines being a great invention. First, they believed the coffee machine Eric created was too expensive for anyone to buy easily. Secondly, they needed to pay full attention to the Nestle instant coffee. 

So in the history of coffee pods, rejection was the first welcome to the idea. Maybe because Eric is the son of an inventor, he didn't give up on his concept of coffee pods. He kept his firm belief and remained persistent until his bosses approved the production of his prototype machine. They created the machine for domestic and office use, and they launched it under another company. 

Nestle Legal Issues

As usual, business comes with a lot of struggles, and even the big companies shake. Around 1991, Nestle was struggling, and Eric Favre had to leave. This time around, he went to start his outfit, Monodor S.A. This company was focused on creating innovations of coffee pods globally. 

The company was faring well, and Eric kept on making an impact on the coffee pod industry. However, the journey of creating and running his company wasn't so smooth all through. In no time, Eric Favre got into a legal battle with his former company, Nestle. The bone of contention was over who owned the creation of coffee pods globally.

Of course, Eric had all the ideas, research, and hard work which birthed the history of coffee pods. But he created the coffee pod machine and assisted the coffee pods invention under his former company Nestle. Therefore, the multinational company, Nestle, has full ownership of the trademark of the coffee pods.

So when Eric Favre started his company to create coffee pods, Nestle dragged him to court. After many hearings and back and forth, Eric and Nestle reached an agreement. The agreement between Eric Favre and his former employer, Nestle, became official in 2003. 

Consumer Reaction

As we have mentioned earlier, the consumer reception for coffee pods wasn't exactly great at the beginning. The first set of consumers to hear the idea were the bosses at Nestle. They were quick to play down the idea and focused on another successful product. However, the bosses at the multinational company Nestle gave the go-ahead for the coffee pods invention much later.

When they took the coffee pod machines to the consumers, there was little or no sign of interest. Nestle presented the machine to corporate offices as a multipurpose coffee machine with easy usage. They tried taking the narrative of these machines to two countries; Switzerland and Japan. 

Irrespective of how much they tried, no one was showing interest in the coffee pod machine. This rejection is another dent in the story of coffee pods. However, Nestle found a way to hack the marketing strategy and make sales. 

Market Strategy

After two years of marketing the coffee pod machines Eric Favre created, Nestle had to shake things up. Fortunately, they found a superhero; Jean-Paul Gaillard joined Nestle Nestled in 1988. As a profound marketer, he decided to change the marketing strategy used to market the coffee pod machines. The new marketing strategy he introduced worked perfectly, which is why you know about coffee pods today. 

Instead of targeting the corporate offices as the primary consumer, Jean-Paul Gaillard targeted home consumers. Also, he changed the narrative of the coffee machine from being an excellent machine to a luxurious product. That wasn't all Jean-Paul Gaillard did; he went ahead to raise the price of coffee pods by 50%. Essentially, he decided to market the coffee pod machines as fully luxurious items. 

This market strategy changed the history of coffee pods for Nestle, as consumers started to buy. Almost immediately, Jean-Paul Gaillard created a community of the consumers who purchased the item. These consumers quickly felt like they were in a luxurious club ahead of others. Many people who love to join groups soon joined the club of people with the coffee machine. 

Market Trends of Coffee Pods

Until more than two years after coffee pods entered the market, they were unknown. So you can easily conclude, coffee pods had a slow start before they grew in the market. Nowadays, there's no country you'll visit without seeing various coffee pods. However, the popularity of coffee pods didn't come without some initial struggles. 

When the market strategy changed through Jean-Paul Gaillard, Nestle started to make sales. These sales started coming in between 1988 and the subsequent years. Since then, the sales of coffee pods have continued to increase sporadically. With the success of coffee pods, you can't easily trace its history when it started. 

Soon enough, competitors already identified the coffee pod market as a potential deal. Many competitor companies created their respective coffee pods and machines to rival Nestle. However, Nestle has the capital and funds to continue pushing through aggressively. So irrespective of stiff competition, Nestle still dominated the coffee pod market. 

Some twenty years after the intro to coffee pods history, Nestle added about £500 million to its revenue. However, by this time, competitors have already increased. Competitors started selling their coffee pods at reduced prices and in other countries. This competition is what has brought about the increase in the coffee pods market. 

Present Market Situation of Coffee Pods

When coffee pods were still new, Nestle controlled a large part of the market. The multinational tried to patent the coffee pods idea, but let's say the competitors moved faster. Sales of various coffee pod types were moving fast in other countries. So while Nestle has a significant influence on the coffee market, they don't have the entire monopoly. 

The coffee pod market today is worth more than one billion dollars conveniently. Year on year, more than 50 million coffee pods get produced by a different company. Coffee pods are so popular that someone somewhere is drinking coffee from coffee pods every second. 

Canada coffee lovers are one of the most popular drinkers of coffee pods across the globe. Every year, more than four million bags of coffee pods get consumed by Canadians in a single year. Each one of these bags weighs sixty kilograms. That means Canadians alone consume about 291 million kilograms of coffee yearly. 

From 2020 till 2021, the globe has consumed more than 150 million bags of coffee weighing 60kg. These statistics should show you how many coffee lovers consume coffee daily. Since coffee pods hold a large market share, the value of coffee pods isn't small. 

The prices of coffee pods are lower than the usual price of ground coffee, which means more consumers. You can easily attribute the low prices to the stiff competition within coffee pod-producing brands. Asides from low costs, the coffee pod market has different flavours to suit diverse consumers. This diversity is how coffee pods started and maintained a large chunk of the coffee market share.  

Future of Coffee Pods

If you look back at the history of coffee pods and how the market trend is, you'll realize coffee pods have broken the norm. As you would expect, there is no stopping the coffee pods market anymore. Experts predict that the coffee pod industry will increase in value by over eight million dollars. More competitors are venturing into the coffee pods market, providing consumers with options. This diversity will attract more consumers, and as such, will increase the value of the coffee pods market.

The coffee pod market, however, has come under criticism frequently because of the manufacturing materials. Coffee pods come in either paper, plastic or aluminum. While paper decomposes quickly, plastic and aluminum coffee pods may take years to decompose. As a result, environmentalists have come hard on coffee pods being bad for the environment. 

However, the coffee pod industry is an innovative one, and as such, improvements come constantly. There are coffee pods with biodegradable properties, which reduce the decomposing time. Moreso, compostable pods are increasing in popularity because of environmental safety. 

Related Article: Comprehensive Guide to Coffee Pods 2021


The history of coffee pods may have started as a romantic challenge between Eric Favre and his wife, Anna-Maria. However, the challenge is what has grown into a billion-dollar industry with increasing value. 

Here at Invigo Coffee, we can provide you with a rich slice of history. Our coffee pods are made to offer you the best aroma and flavour with every serve. Look through our collection of coffee pods today!

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