World of Coffee Milan is behind us. Everyone is back home. And have finally been able to catch up on email. We reached out to the Best New Product winners to understand more about the journey they went on to develop their award-winning products.
Kaffeeform won the Coffee Accessories category for its updated version of its Weducer Cup Refined. Borne from an idea they had in 2009, the cup was finally launched in 2015 after Kaffeeform developed a unique formula to upcycle old coffee. Designed in Berlin and made in Germany, the cup is made of coffee grounds from Berlin-based cafés and roasteries, beechwood fibers from Southern Germany, and other renewable resources. The only binding agents are plant-based polymers (no petroleum-based plastics). The cup still keeps drinks warm, is highly durable & robust, does not suffer any damage from drops up to 1.5m and is extremely lightweight and dishwasher-friendly.
We chatted to the founder and CEO, Julian Nachtigall-Lechner, about the journey to Product of the Year.
Tell us more about Kaffeeform.
When I was living in Italy I got deeply into the local espresso culture. Back then I was studying product design at the University of Bozen, and I was looking for inspiration for my final dissertation. I was very intrigued by the idea of using recycled coffee grounds to create a new material, exploring the potential of a resource that usually ends up in the trash. I spent years experimenting and eventually, Kaffeeform was born in 2015.
What inspired you to create the cup?
The prospect of turning old coffee grounds into a new, sustainable material fascinated me from day one. Once I managed to find the perfect formula in 2015, I realized it had endless possibilities – the material is so versatile, there’s no single application you can’t think of, literally. I wanted the very first Kaffeeform product to tell the story behind the material so people could easily understand its concept and rationale, and so I decided to start by creating a range of coffee cups.
Back in 2015 there were no similar products available on the market. A few years later, witnessing how the coffee on-the-go culture was becoming more and more popular, I decided to shift direction to address this issue. As a product designer, I’ve always felt called to positively contribute to a healthier planet and sensing the growing demand for a beautifully-designed, functional reusable travel mug, I decided to create one myself.
Hello, Weducer Cup! Three years after its successful launch, it left our range to make space for not one, but two new versions: the Weducer Cup Essential (10oz / 300ml) and the Weducer Cup Refined (12oz / 350ml). The first one is designed as a ‘caffeine-free’ cup made of recycled wood fibers, that still maintains the characteristics of the original cup. The second one is a slightly taller, double-wall mug that consists of our iconic material using recycled coffee grounds, while the colorful inner layer and the drinking lid are made from the same innovative wood-fiber composition used in the Weducer Cup Essential. Both come with a drinking lid, and there’s the compatible Weducer Cap that can be bought separately to fully close the mugs, for more peace of mind.
Tell us about the process of developing the cup?
You shall know that we always test and trial hundreds of different prototypes before releasing any final products. In this case, it was very important to figure out the right proportions for different hands; also, we were aiming for an optimized grip with the outer surface, great isolation properties for hot beverages, and an easy screw top that’s compatible with different lids. Once we developed the final design, we were confronted with multiple challenges related to mass-manufacturing the different parts of the product.
What does it mean to you that you won SCA Product of the Year at WOC in Milan?
It’s such an honor for us! It’s a confirmation and a reward for our hard work over the years. As an independently-owned company with no external funding, we’ve got limited resources and don’t have access to the same opportunities that big companies funded by venture capital have. Winning this award puts us in the spotlight and allows us to reach new customers.
What’s next for you?
We’ve been thinking about branching out into new product categories for years and have recently started dipping our toes into this huge, new realm by launching the Coffee Watch – the first watch worldwide with a case made using recycled coffee grounds. Also, within the next couple of weeks we’ll introduce a new small, decorative home item – and we’ve got a few new projects in the pipeline! Another big theme for us this year is selling internationally, both to end-customers and wholesale. Stay tuned!
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