The Full Package - Chat with Agnes from Allpress
Allpress is a household name in the coffee industry. Well-known for their great tasting coffee and recognisable takeaway cup. The use of hot Air Roasting enables the brands unique character of every bean to shine through. Allpress currently works with 1000 independent cafes globally.
Community and collaboration play a huge part in the hospitality industry. What better way to encourage locals to support cafes, than to help everyone to get to know each other a little better.
We're stoked for Allpress to be a part of our Full Package service. We caught up with Agnes at Allpress to chat brews, bars and bins.
Hello Agnes, firstly, a huge congrats on the big investment! What’s it been like being part of building such an incredible homegrown Kiwi success story?
Allpress is an incredible company and that is down to the founder's Mike and Tony and the team. They created a business that put people and flavour first with the insight that commercial success would follow if these two principles underpinned everything. They were clearly onto something. Sometimes this has meant taking a longer path but it has always created the space to do the right thing and to invest in people and their development. I have been lucky enough to be part of this journey in New Zealand, Japan and the UK and it has been the best adventure! I couldn’t be happier for Mike and Tony to hand the baton to Asahi after 30 odd years.
Exciting times, what will this mean for your sustainability goals?
Thank you! We’re very excited to embark on the next part of Allpress’s evolution as a business. We have been on our sustainability journey for a while building energy-efficient buildings with solar power, engineering the ART roaster, introducing compostable packaging, transitioning to electric vehicles and generally reassessing what materials we use across the board, where they end up and how we can reduce our overall impact on the planet. This is a constant work in progress and we have so much more to do.
What made you guys decide to make the transition to compostable packaging?
Our takeaway cup has been an iconic part of our brand for 30 years now, and although we’ve made a concerted effort to move away from single-use products, events like the pandemic have shown us there will always be a need to provide our community with an option for when they’re caught without their reusable. There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding how to do this sustainably, but we settled on compostable packaging because it’s our best chance at achieving a fully circular waste economy. Often, people don’t realise food contamination makes their food and beverage packaging unrecyclable, which means it ends up going straight to landfill. We want to educate, support and grow the composable infrastructure to stop this happening – we’ve seen it happen in our NZ and Australian communities so we know it can be successful here too, we just need a little help from our friends (that’s where you guys come in).
It’s so awesome that you guys are committed to sustainability, what appealed to you about working with decent and the full package? (yep, we’re fishing for compliments)
We’ve been using compostable cups globally for a long time now, however, it became obvious that without the infrastructure to ensure these products end up in the right place these efforts to be more sustainable would have a limited impact. Decent has pioneered this infrastructure in NZ and has been pushing and campaigning to achieve the same success since day one in the UK. There are plenty of businesses producing compostable packaging but not many are genuinely dedicated to completing the cycle in the same way as Decent. We admire their authentic commitment to the cause, and they’re a nice bunch of people to work with which always helps!
What is your ambition for this project?
In an ideal world, we would love to see a compostable collection point on the corner of every block in the UK. This would be a massive achievement and it’s going to take a big effort to get everyone on board. Fortunately, we’re privileged to work with over 300 independent businesses run by passionate people with an interest in investing in the future of their communities. Most of them are already using compostable products, so it’s an easy next step to provide collection points for when their customers are done with them.
What would you say to other roasteries, cafes or organisations that want to make the switch to compostable packaging and establish their own composting collections?
There’s no time like the present! Companies like Decent and First Mile are finally providing a simple solution for you to do the right thing with your single-use waste. We know running any business is really hard at the best of times, implementing a new initiative like this can fall to the back burner while you try and keep up with other demands. We think of all our sustainability work as an investment in our brand, and of course the future of our planet, which is the most important thing at the end of the day. Seeing how much waste we can divert from landfill is incredibly satisfying, and knowing we work in an industry which relies on the earth to provide us with our main product makes it a no brainer.
Have you seen a change in the public interest in composting since you started?
Definitely. When we first started working in the UK, recyclable cups were not much of a thing, let alone compostable ones. As the education and amplification of information about compostable packaging have gotten better, we’re seeing plenty of our café partners make the switch. Even better, we’re seeing other food and beverage businesses start to champion their use of compostable packaging, it’s really picking up momentum now.
What's the hardest or most challenging part of running Allpress?
Like any business, our challenges change from day to day but there is always something to keep us on our toes. Between covid, self-isolation and the usual holidays and illness just having enough people on board on any given day is our most acute challenge at the moment. It is something our entire industry is struggling with which is amplified by huge skill shortages – thank god the hospitality is such a creative and resilient bunch!
On the flip side, what's the most rewarding part?
Without a doubt working with the team at Allpress is a treat! It is such a diverse group of people who are all talented and hardworking but also hilarious. I don’t think we would have survived the last year if we didn’t know how to laugh in the storms.
When you’re not slinging shots and saving the world, where could we find you for a feed and a few beers?
Working in the hospitality industry definitely has its perks, we’re never short of friends doing incredible work in this industry to call on. Two of our all-time favourite eateries would be Brawn on Columbia Rd, and Towpath on Regents Canal. For a pint after work, the Dalston Curve Garden is a hidden gem. It’s a little green oasis in the middle of bustling Dalston, stepping off Dalston Lane into there feels like stepping into another world. The café there is also a social enterprise. All of the proceeds pay for the operation of the Garden and for a year-round education programme and community events.
Any nuggets of wisdom or advice for other eco-conscious people, coffee-lovers, and businesses?
There is no magic bullet! Don’t aim to complete your sustainability journey. Sustainability is all about constant small steps. For sustainable decisions to become a part of everyday life we need to encourage, remind, sometimes dig through a bin, then remind again.