Pods Beta Testing: What we’re doing to deliver better-tasting pods

Posted on Posted in Coffee, Pact News

After 18 months of research and development, we’ve produced a pod we’re really proud of, but we’re not stopping there. Read on to learn more about why we’re beta testing our pods…

Pods Kitchen-0920

Pact Pods have been a real labour of love for us. Following mountains of requests from our customers, we embarked on our mission. We wanted to offer a better alternative to the big guys; one that values, above all else, flavour, quality, and making a positive impact at origin.

So after 18 months of R&D, we released Pact Pods, filled with our own freshly roasted, Directly Traded, speciality coffee. And we’re incredibly proud of the first round of pods. The flavours really are a cut above the rest – even Caffeine magazine gave them the thumbs up:

Caffeine Magazine Pact Coffee Pods Review

“this would make a very good alternative for the average Nespresso user – it’s a great coffee to help make the move towards more subtle and flavoursome speciality coffees”

However, being new to the game, we couldn’t rest there. Which is why, as with everything we do at Pact, collecting customer feedback for those initial pods was our top priority. The experiences of those first pods drinkers set the wheels in motion for how we could make the next round even better than the first.

We’re beta testing our pods…

For a lot of people “beta” might sound a little sci-fi, but what it really means is that we’re testing Pact Pods on a large scale by releasing them into the wild. It’s our way of working out exactly what we need to do to keep making our pods better by eliminating any teething problems while also striving to create a more environmentally sustainable pod*.

Beta testing is a common stage in the development of new products. However, unlike many other companies, we’ve decided to get our community involved – much the same way we used a crowdfunding campaign to help get them off the ground.

By asking our community of coffee lovers for help throughout this process, we’re confident we’ll get honest, real-life feedback from people who are dedicated to our mission of offering a great-tasting pod that also has an enormous positive impact at origin.

This is where you come in, dear pod drinker…

At last count, we’d spent more than 700 hours chatting, emailing, tweeting and meeting with 1,397 different customers, who’ve shared valuable information that’s helping us to improve our pods. But we want to hear from more of you!

If you’ve tried Pact Pods and have some feedback that could help us in our mission, we’d love to hear from you. Good, bad or somewhere in between all feedback is incredibly precious to us.

The best way to get in touch is by either emailing our special “Beta Taskforce”, or visiting our UserVoice Forum and starting the conversation there.  

Experiencing problems with your pods?

Some of the feedback we’ve already received is that a few pods experienced performance issues. We’re offering a refund for any pods that aren’t working properly. So, if you’ve had problems with any of your Pact Pods please do get in touch to let us know.

*Throughout the design process we were determined to create a more sustainable pod. Unfortunately, the technology for creating biodegradable pod casings isn’t there yet, and all the options we explored weren’t up to scratch when it came to preserving the lovely flavour and freshness of our coffee. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we chose materials that are all fully recyclable (plus, coffee makes great compost!). We take this issue really seriously and continue to keep an eye out for better, more sustainable alternatives.

50 thoughts on “Pods Beta Testing: What we’re doing to deliver better-tasting pods

  1. I didnt expect to be sent a package every 5 days. That was not made clear before I ordered my sample bag.

    Now its my fault for not reading the detail AND I still feel its a tawdry marketing maneouvre – but you know your business. If I like the coffee and its good value I’ll come back for more. I’ve put the next shipment on hold for 30 days. I would prefer if I was taken off your subscription list permanently.

    I’ve spent 20 years researching customer interaction.
    When someone feels tricked, trust goes out the window.
    And lack of trust is the biggest reason for losing a customer.

    /|\
    paul

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave us some feedback, Paul!

      I’m so sorry to hear that the service we’re offering was unclear when signing up! It definitely was not our intention to mislead you in any way. Although Pact is a recurring order service, it is one that can be cancelled at any time so I’ll make sure that your account is paused indefinitely after your first shipment, then if you decide that you’d like more coffee after this, all you need to do is log back in and reactivate the account. You’re also free to change your delivery frequency and shipping dates to anything that might suit so the 5 day frequency you chose when signing up is not rigid at all.

      I hope that’s helpful but if there’s anything else we can do to help, please feel free to get back in touch!

    2. Hi Paul. I’m a Pact customer (full disclosure – I have no affiliation whatsoever with the company) and I just thought I’d chip in and say I’m sad to hear you had a bad experience. My own experience of Pact is that it is the best customer experience I’ve ever experienced. I find the ability to slow down or speed up your coffee subscription without penalty – including cancelling it altogether – is rare and excellent. The website makes this very easy too. And if ever things do go wrong, Pact have never been anything short of human in their apologies to me and making it up with free samples and the like. I hope you stay a Pact drinker because one of my worst fears is that one day this awesome company is trampled on by a global coffee giant. Pete

      1. Have to say I agree with Pete. Great customer service for me and great coffee. I’m not shy in having a rant where needed and have no interests with pact other than coffee. Text.phone.email.www. All have been very easy to sort out. The text may have been a one off I think.but it still worked well. Hope you change your mind as I think you’ll enjoy the bean. Either way good luck

    3. I agree with you Paul – I had exactly the same experience except I spotted it when I had completed the registration so have not yet got sucked in – I do feel decieved also because I declined to take the offer of different return orders but presumably missed the small print somewhere which said if you do you get it every two weeks whether you like it or not. Response is good in that I’ve been told I can cancel as soon as i like even the day after the offer package arrives – the coffee will have to be good for me to go back to this tricky supplier at the moment I have a bad taste in my mouth
      Tim

      1. Hi Tim, I’m sorry to hear you feel deceived, as that’s not our intention at all. As mentioned, there’s no obligation to stay with us, and you can cancel your account at any time. I hope you enjoy the coffee, but if you have any queries at all, feel free to email ahoy@pactcoffee.com.

  2. Tried your pods, the plastic packaging is too thick for the machine to pierce properly (unlike the thick foil packaging of the Nespresso pods) so half of the time the machine gives up – I’m guessing due to an overpressure cut-out.

    I sent feedback but got no response 🙁

    1. So sorry to hear that you’ve been having trouble with the pods and that you didn’t receive a response from us!

      I’ve had a search through our inbox and I’m not able to find a message from you – I’m so sorry about that! I’m going to get in touch with you by email right now to clear things up! Looking forward to hearing from you.

  3. Hey guys. I contacted you about this on Twitter before, thanks for the feedback there. Going to repost this here as well so other folks can see.

    Basically I’ve had two problems with the pods when using them with my Inissia machine.

    One – I have to struggle a bit to get my machine to lock in place when I insert them, the handle doesn’t seem to want to lock into place so it takes a little bit more oomph to get the machine to accept them.

    Two – It seems to really struggle with the actual flow of water and sometimes it comes out as not much better than a drip. It often seems to take a lot longer than either the genuine Nespresso pods or the Taylors ones to finish. If I check the used pod in the hopper, you can see that the foil top isn’t being pierced cleanly like other pods, it’s only half-pierced so the water can’t flow properly.

    The actual coffee is lovely, but the design of the pods could definitely benefit from a little tweaking!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave us some feedback, Shaun! This is all really helpful as we’re trying to improve our pods and get them working perfectly in every machine.

      If you haven’t already, please drop us an email to ahoy@pactcoffee.com and we’ll be able to refund you for the pods that have failed or replace them with some fresh coffee instead!

    2. I’m having the exact same issue, the thicker pods definitely help preserve the taste of the coffee they taste delicious. However mine rarely pierce, they always need putting in twice to get the water to flow. When it does flow its very slow and can take a long time to come through. I am finding that the coffee isn’t quite as hot as a genuine Nespresso pod too.

      1. Hi Daniel, thanks a million for taking the time to leave us some feedback on our pods. We really appreciate it. Would you mind sending an email to ahoy@pactcoffee.com, so we can speak directly? We’ll then be able to organise a refund or send you a replacement of fresh coffee instead.

  4. My sister bought me a Tassimo machine for Christmas. Hearing that you were doing pods gave me a glimmer of hope that I’d finally find a use for it. Then I read you were going with Nestlé; not a brand I’d personally want to associate with.

    Hopefully you’ll make some for the Tassimo in future.

    1. Sorry to hear that, Matt!

      It’s still pretty early days for us as far as pods go but once we have this first batch perfected we’d love to expand the range with more flavours and types!

  5. You’ve certainly ruined PACT coffee by adding the environmental disaster that is the POD. Just sack it off and choose ethics over money.

    Poo

    1. With you there mate..life isn’t too short that people can’t smash an aeropress or drip at work! Pods are poo.

      1. Hi Jon & Stuart,

        Each piece of the pod we’ll be selling (the capsule, foil seal and even the coffee itself) is recyclable, but will need to be separated. We would really love it if we could produce biodegradable pods, however the technology just isn’t there yet. Currently, the biodegradable pods available don’t seal in freshness and would produce a sub-par cup of coffee. We’re keeping on top of all advancements in biodegrading pods and hopefully we’ll get there soon.

        The reason Pact has entered the pods market is so that we can try to improve both the quality of coffee and environmental impact of pods – that is to say, there wouldn’t be anything we can do by not participating.

        I hope this is helpful!

        1. With Nespresso pods anyways you can return them to a store or post them back and they will take care of recycling the pods. I wonder would Nespresso accept the Pact pods too?

          They’re not all that bad, they are recyclable, just with a little more work.

  6. “Ohh, pods in beta testing,great!!” I thought to myself..
    Except they’re for the nespresso. I’ve got a tassimo machine and a dolce gusto machine..and you guys make pods for the terrible machine I don’t have.

    Any chance you’re going to branch out into other shaped pods??

    1. So sorry about that, Charlotte!

      It’s still very early days for us as far as pods go! We’re working on perfecting this batch first and once that’s done we’d love to expand the range that’s available.

  7. i did not realise it was an ongoing order so after my first shipment please take me off the scheme please

    1. Sure thing, Trisha!

      As soon as your first order is dispatched we’ll put your account on indefinite hold. If you’d like to order more after that, all you need to do is log back in. It looks like there was an issue processing your first payment so we’ll attempt that again today. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us by dropping an email to ahoy@pactcoffee.com!

  8. I tried the pods and they were not very good.
    I had flow and temperature problems.

    I would like to know what changes you have made to improve the Mk2 pods but I cant see any detail on here.

    1. Sorry to hear that Stephen!

      If you haven’t already, please drop an email to ahoy@pactcoffee.com and we’ll be able to refund those for you or send a replacement of fresh coffee instead!

      Just to let you know, the new batch of pods will be made from a thinner material which won’t have the same issues with puncturing that certain machines ran into. We’ve also significantly reduced the variation from pod to pod so you should see a more consistent result with each pour. These new pods should be available to order within the next four weeks!

  9. It’s great to see a company that puts flavour and quality above all else, just because consumers want a quick-fix for fantastic tasting coffee fast doesn’t mean that the people delivering that fix should cut any corners when it comes to what’s inside the pod. Despite some criticism in the comments here, it’s fantastic that coffee pods are moving in the same direction as other areas of coffee, towards speciality, artisan coffee but more importantly towards direct trade and emphasis on origin.

    1. Aw, thanks so much for the kind words, Alex! It’s our goal to work with farms who are committed to sustainability, quality and fair treatment of their workers, so it’s great to hear you are interested in it too and that you can appreciate what we’re trying to achieve with these pods!

  10. How about ESE pods? Much more “green” than those nasty plastic and foil jobs.

    Simple “construction”. Should be easy to add to any production line. And there are very few decent suppliers.

    1. It’s certainly something to consider for the future, Michael! As it’s still early days, we’re only focussing on perfecting pods suitable for Nespresso models, but we will take your feedback on board for further development.

  11. I don’t have any complaints but just want to say that, as far as I am concerned, your ordering/subscription service could not be simpler.
    1. You ask me how often I drink coffee and suggest a delivery schedule which I can accept – or not
    2. You email me a couple of days BEFORE delivery is due to ask me if I want to amend the delivery date. If I do there is even a link in the email which takes me straight to the place where I can reschedule my order.
    3. You make it easy for me to suspend deliveries if I plan to be away for a period of time.

    I honestly don’t think you could be more helpful.

    As for the pods themselves. Sure they could be improved – everything can be improved – but I have had no major problems over the last 3-4 months. The coffee inside is easily recycled by adding to the compost heap or to pot plants (that’s plants in pots not … well you understand) – or even putting down the drain where it is good for de-greasing the pipes. The plastic containers can also be recycled or used as seed pods – heck you even provide a windowsill stand!

    My only “would like” is a wider variety of coffee.

    Sorry for the long post – but I think it covers what I wanted to say! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your awesome feedback Angela, we’re delighted that you’re happy with the coffee and our service! It’s so nice to hear that you’ve been recycling the pods in different ways, too. As we develop them further, we will definitely consider offering a wider range of coffees. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Gerry, I’m not sure what you mean by OZY coffee I’m afraid. Are you able to elaborate on what this is? 🙂

  12. It’s incredible to see an organization that puts flavor and quality most importantly else, in light of the fact that customers need a snappy fix for awesome tasting espresso quick doesn’t imply that the general population conveying that alter ought to compromise with regards to what’s inside the unit. Notwithstanding some feedback in the remarks here, it’s phenomenal that espresso cases are moving in the same course as different territories of espresso, towards claim to fame, artisan espresso yet all the more imperatively towards direct exchange and accentuation on starting point.

  13. I just wanted to say well done guys on the pods. I do hope you fix the issue with lid piercing as the pods can take a long time to pour but it’s worth the wait. Great flavours – much better than Nespresso. I do hope you find a more sustainable version with materials or design though. But I recognise that if this were easy, Nestlé or Starbucks would have done it already. Go on – it’s time for you to out-innovate the industry giants once more!

    1. Thanks for your feedback! We really do appreciate this. We would love it if we could produce biodegradable pods, however the technology just isn’t there yet. Currently, the biodegradable pods available don’t seal in freshness and would produce a sub-par cup of coffee. Don’t worry though. We’re keeping on top of all advancements in biodegrading pods and hopefully we’ll get there soon

  14. hi there,im wanting to place an order for the coffee pods for my (Nespresso coffee machine) but reading through the comments and people stating the first lot of pods you run are jamming there machines up and the foil isn’t piercing correctly can you confirm that you have ironed out the problem with them and that your on your 2nd run of the pods I look forward to your reply back thanks in advance.

    1. Thanks for getting in touch Harry. We’ve been taking on all feedback regarding pods and sending it on to our manufacturers to iron out any kinks. Our pods are made from a high-grade plastic, and certain models of Nespresso machine were having a little trouble piercing the pod. We’re hoping to have that all sorted in the next few weeks so the pods work fine in all Nespresso compatible machines. We’ll be sure to let you know when they’re ready!

  15. My heart sank a little when I saw you were making these pods. As others have alluded to they’re a recycling nightmare. Yes each component can be taken apart, but I seriously doubt every customer will be going through the effort of that; these pods are designed for the customer who wants coffee as quickly and easily as possible. If they were happy to fiddle around they’d be buying beans etc. More often that not they will end up as landfill.

    Honestly I feel like we should be trying to put an end to this kind of technology rather than making it more attractive, certainly until all the recycling concerns have been solved. Could you not just have waited?

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave us some feedback. We really appreciate it. I’m sorry to hear you feel that way.

      As I’m sure you know, we really do care about our farmers, coffee, customers and the environment – pretty much everyone and everything we are in contact with. We have been working on these pods for months now and have tried to take a very considered approach in creating and launching them.

      We would really love it if we could produce biodegradable pods, however the technology just isn’t there yet. Currently, the biodegradable pods available don’t seal in freshness and would produce a sub-par cup of coffee. We’re keeping on top of all advancements in biodegrading pods and hopefully, we’ll get there soon.

  16. I used to be a Nespresso owner. Maybe I was a little pedantic, but I always emptied the pods after use (coffee grounds in the garden) and recycled the aluminium pods with my recyclable waste. I’ve been using a ‘proper’ espresso machine for a while and buy Pact in wholebean, but my wife is insistent on having her own Nespresso machine, so I’ll be buying pods soon too.

    FWIW, I’ve tried other pod machines and nothing comes closer to a real espresso than the Nespresso machines. They produce a good brew with a proper crema – a nice thick layer with very fine bubbles. The others seem to produce a very ‘foamy’ crema with big bubbles and lack the creamy oiliness that you get with the real thing…..

    1. Hi Graeme! That’s great to hear that you were recycling the pods. Each piece of the pod we sell (the capsule, foil seal and, as you said, even the coffee itself) is recyclable.We would really love it if we could produce biodegradable pods, however the technology just isn’t there yet. Currently, the biodegradable pods available don’t seal in freshness and would produce a sub-par cup of coffee. Don’t worry though. We’re keeping on top of all advancements in biodegrading pods and hopefully we’ll get there soon.

      We’re really big fans of the coffee you can get out of a Nespresso machine which is why we ventured in to creating pods for them. We want everyone to be able to experience the great taste of Pact coffee, no matter what method you use!

  17. Sent an email about the Beta test and heard nothing back. Even a Sorry we aren’t accepting people would of been nice. 🙁

        1. Hmm, that is strange as I can’t see any emails from that email address. Could you send us one to ahoy@pactcoffee.com now and we’d be more than happy to help! We always personally answer every single email that is sent in and it seems that must have got mislaid along the way.

  18. Your Pods caused us to buy a Nespresso machine (Kitchenaid) and they are fantastic. We have had no issues at all.
    A request: Can you do a decaffeinated version next, please? We love to drink coffee in an evening but need decaf.
    Thank you for your coffee experiences but my favourite is your Sertao Expresso. Cheers Tony.

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