Business idea of the day

10:13 am General

Nespresso are cleaning up, with huge profit margins on their €0.31 per capsule coffee, not to mention the revenues from the coffee machines and stores.

Every other type of coffee has an alternative to the monopolist – you can buy relatively cheap pre-ground expresso coffee in the supermarket for  traditional coffee machines, or you can get coffee capsules cheap for Senseo. But in spite of a wide search, I have not yet found anyone selling capsules compatible with Nespresso for €0.15 or €0.20 a capsule (a price at which, I think, you could make a fine profit margin).

There’s a bit of R&D, you’d need to get someone to do the foil & plastic covers for you, and you’d need to get the thickness & strength just right for the nespresso machines, but I figure that it wouldn’t be too difficult for someone with the competency in plastics already. Then all you need to do is come up with a decent coffee blend that’s not too expensive, set up the production line, and package & sell on the internet. You could even do just some prototypes, and commission some company with existing production lines to generate the volumes you need of capsules to handle orders JIT.

Nothing to do with free software, and all to do with my desire not to become the endentured servant of a monopolist. Please, someone, take advantage of this opportunity and give me cheaper coffee!

12 Responses

  1. Fannar Says:

    Yeah, I think it would really nice to get some competition in the capsule market.

    The capsules are made of aluminium not plastic, and if there would be more vendors out there then you could hopefully recycle them in more places then in Switzerland.

  2. daniel Says:

    …or you could just use a non-monopolist coffee machine. Not only will this save you (lots of) money, but you could buy actual fairtrade coffee – or whatever floats your particular boat – and you won’t have to worry about the recycling issues – you have been washing the pods prior to recycling, haven’t you?

    In addition, you’ll be able to control the strenght of your coffee and, most importantly, it won’t taste like crap!

  3. Dave Neary Says:

    fanner: “foil & plastic” I said. I realise there’s aluminium foil in there, and that recycling is an issue.

    daniel: We have a traditional espresso machine machine too, but it’s falling apart. The Nespresso machine was a gift to replace it. And I really like the coffee it makes…

  4. Ross Burton Says:

    Yeah, this is why I have a traditional non-crippled coffee machine. You’ve just been stung by coffee DRM. :) I woulnd’t be surprised if the exact shape of the pod is patented so you can’t produce cheap clones.

  5. Ross Burton Says:

    The nespresso pods are patented, so this isn’t a great idea. :)

  6. Dom Says:

    Note that Nespresso has a patent on their capsule system, which most likely explains why nobody has come up with other capsules.
    More on this lock-in situation on a post I wrote a while ago:

  7. Frédéric Says:

    Well, there is a good reason why it is a monopoly, and it can be explained in one word: patents !

    The last patent on Nespresso’s capsule will expire in 2012 (random google citation:,dwp_uuid=f6e7043e-6d68-11da-a4df-0000779e2340.html) Until then, choosing another coffee machine is your only option…

  8. Benni Says:

    But supporting Nestlé and unfair coffee doesn’t seem compatible with the ideas behind free software, don’t you think?

  9. Dave Neary Says:

    To all the patent naysayers: the process for making the capsules is patented. You can’t patent shapes or materials, and if someone can figure out how to make the capsules without using the Nestlé patented system, then all bets are off.

    Aren’t we supposed to be viciously opposed to the patent system in any case? Since when is patenting a plastic and foil wrapping shape valid?

  10. Sven Says:

    Not only is the coffee expensive, using such capsules made from aluminium and plastic is also a terrible waste of resources. The only reasonable thing you can do is to avoid these machines. No matter what company produces them and no matter how cheap the capsules are being sold.

  11. Michele Says:


    Everyone was recommending Nespresso and other similar solutions, but the vendor lockin struck me as a bit crazy, so we ended up going for a simple filter machine and just buy the coffee in the local cash and carry

    I also don’t like the idea of having hundreds of these capsules in the rubbish. The more boring filter machine produces biodegradable waste (apart from the bags, which I think can be recycled)



  12. joel Says:

    if god didn’t want us to buy nestles products, they why does there coffee taste so good?