Member Company Profile: Quantum Specialties Limited

What is your core business?  Encapsulating Kiwi Coffee Roasters’ fresh beans into Nespresso(TM)-compatible capsules.

When did you start trading? 2015

Give us a three-sentence summary of your company:

Quantum is a home-grown, independent Kiwi business built on the belief that any coffee consumed in New Zealand should be crafted and prepared by our highly competent local roasters. Coffee capsules are a huge segment of the New Zealand market but are currently underserved by local roasters. Quantum has developed the equipment and practices to take Kiwi-roasted coffee and encapsulate it ready for retail (online, on the cafe counter, or from off the supermarket shelf) into compatible, sustainable coffee capsules… “Your roast in a capsule”

Who are your customers? Coffee roasters mainly; some capsule users who send me roasted beans from local roasters who do not do capsules yet (!); and some businesses that are doing an incentive or “thank you” giveaway that’s a bit different (eg custom coffee capsules as Christmas gifts for their own customers or staff)

Describe your ideal customer:  A coffee roaster who wishes to cover the entire range of coffee at home and for the workplace; a roaster who wishes to do frequent (monthly runs) to maintain freshness and variety so that their capsules are the very best they can be at the time they are consumed; and a roaster who recognises that the capsule segment is a significant untapped part of the coffee world that they can tackle simply by engaging Quantum’s friendly service.

How do you reach your customers? (online, storefront, in person, on the phone, etc) By email, by phone, by word of mouth, and through our online presence

What’s something you sell/offer that not many people might know about: Many roasters at first think I am trying to sell them a capsule I have filled with someone else’s coffee… not at all! The beauty of what I do is that the final capsule contains their own roast and is not simply a re-branded product (like so many locally-branded products actually are). They are also surprised to discover sample runs are free of charge and economic product runs are quite small (only a few kg as opposed to the huge MOQs required by off-shore capsule suppliers). We also make it easy to get up and running by offering retail packaging options for the capsules themselves so set-up costs and time are minimal to nothing.

Tell us about any advances over time that you’ve embraced. These may be technological, sustainability or HR for example

We started small (literally in my garage in One Tree Hill) with one machine that I had developed; we have since moved (twice) into bigger and better premises as we have landed larger customers and increased our capacity (developed an additional, larger capacity machine) and grown the “team” with the addition of my assistant, Roger. Initially, we were using an all-polypropylene (PP) capsule but have moved to a German-designed aluminium/PP hybrid with an oxygen barrier that has fully recyclable components (recyclable in Council curbside collections) and also a long shelf life (>12 months). We are currently exploring other technologies (eg compostable systems) but for now what Quantum offers is the most sustainable, lowest waste, home-recyclable system available in New Zealand.

What has been the project/concept/service that you’re most proud of? Building my own equipment to reliably fill coffee capsules and the systems to support sales and distribution (eg our “Qube” series of retail boxes)… and more recently to have moved into a clean, modern facility that provides us with room to scale and maintain the highest standards in our work.

What gets you and your team out of bed in the morning? Why do you do what you do?

I love innovating and improving our equipment and processes – I always have something new on the go. I also love working with Roger, my assistant, who is the epitome of reliability and efficiency – we constantly are striving to beat our best and biggest day’s processing tally. When a customer has an urgent job and we are able to pull out all stops and meet their deadline we have a great feeling of achievement, knowing we have made a positive difference in someone else’s day.

Do you think the expertise of the industry is appreciated by the general coffee-drinking public? In general, I think Kiwis are very grateful for the quality of the coffee Kiwi roasters bring to them; in the cafe, workplaces, and at home. However, I think that largely the capsule-drinking customer is currently unaware that there are fresh, local capsules out there that not only meet their demands for a great capsule coffee; but also meet the criteria of being made locally with all the social, economic, and environmental benefits that accrue from that.

In an ideal world, where would you like to see the future of our industry?   I am biased, but from brews I have had overseas and from what I see coming in by way of capsule imports, Kiwi coffee is far superior and prepared with more pride than much of what is out there. Since coffee is best consumed fresh in most forms, it is hard to leverage Kiwi-roasted coffee into the export market without having to add air miles to the finished goods… However, coffee capsules are a unique opportunity for export (and by sea!) Indeed, we are currently swamped with inferior imported capsules right now. I’d love to see Kiwi roasters not just supplying capsules into the local market but also taking on some foreign markets with the superior flavours and roasting techniques that make all the difference along with their strong Kiwi brands.

What’s in the future for your company? Any current projects that you are proud of?

I have a few things up my sleeve…. but I’m an engineer and so don’t like to promise too much until I know it’s all working ok. Our current offering is already highly competitive with what is out there and I’m keen to see more local roasters join us in serving the capsule segment rather than leaving it to importers who add little local value. Scale is important so as Quantum grows, what we can provide to the local industry in terms of innovation, value, and quality will also grow with that – so I am keen to see growth so that the benefits are available to all Quantum’s customers.

Contact Darryn Alexander: