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NEW GENERATION EXPLORERS: KAFFEEFORM

All great explorers were considered visionaries in their own way. They were driven by the need to discover new frontiers, to develop further, to expand borders and find new solutions.

Now that we have already explored a wide range of the world around us, we have embarked on a journey to discover something new in what is already found. The new generation of explorers are those who are brave enough to cross borders and continually broaden their perspectives, like Kaffeeform did. They took the concept of circularity to a new level, by giving renewable resources – that would have ended up in the trash – a second life by transforming them into beautiful everyday objects and infusing them with a new purpose.

We met with a new generation explorer, Julian Nachtigall-Lechner the founder of Kaffeeform, to talk about their journey.

How was Kaffeeform born and how would you describe your journey?

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 was and is your motivation?

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.

Can you explain your products in more detail (What are Kaffeeform cups made of, where are they produced, etc.)?

We create functional, high quality products for daily usage, such as our range of reusable coffee cups named Weducer Cup Essential and Weducer Cup Refined. Our material focus for these items is on recycled resources, such as coffee grounds from local coffee shops in Berlin and recycled beechwood scraps from local wood mills from southern Germany. These get mixed with a unique formula based on plant-based biopolymers in order to achieve a good durability. The material production and manufacturing takes place in Germany, powered on renewable energies to minimize the emissions of greenhouse gases.

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With a variety of sustainable materials, why did you start working with coffee? How did the idea grow?

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.

Since starting your business, did you make changes in your daily routine towards a sustainable lifestyle? Can you name a few?

Since we started working with a local cargo-bicycle collective, I got deeply into cycling. From my understanding and knowledge of materials and manufacturing emissions, I changed my view strongly on single-use items. The production of packaging for short usage is very bad, so I try to buy mostly from unpacked stores and bring in alternative bags etc.

What is your goal for Kaffeeform? What are projects you are working on?

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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What would you like to give to the new generation of explorers to help them realize their ideas?

From experience I can recommend to follow a very lean approach to kick-off new ideas. Means you start fresh from a first idea and create quickly simple prototypes or written scripts of your vision for testing with real audience. Then you most likely modify your prototypes or scripts and hop on the next testing round. This will help you to sharpen your road to success and avoid lost hours on wrong assumptions.

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