Theme: Sustainable Design

Anything that can vouch for being completely plastic-free gets our stamp of approval, especially as we at the V&A Waterfront continue pushing toward being a plastic-free neighbourhood. That’s why the compostable coffee pods by 4WKS jolt us with even more energy than the caffeine inside them. Beautifully packaged in refillable glass jars, these eco-friendly pods are packed with some of the best coffee in SA, meaning that the flavour of the bean has not been neglected in delivering a sustainable product. Launched toward the end of last year in Cape Town by brothers Daniel and Oliver Pretorius and their cousin Lulu Larché, 4WKS is “for coffee snobs who love the planet”. Collaborating with four local roasters – Rosetta, Deluxe, Terbodore and Naked – it offers choice in more ways than one. Traditional aluminium coffee pods usually have a very long shelf life, but the 4WKS team feels this undermines the quality, knowing that coffee is best consumed when newly roasted. They found a way to make pods, with freshly roasted coffee from some of the country’s best micro-roasters, that can be discarded into the home composting heap without impacting the environment. Because of the freshness of the beans, the pods are best used within four weeks, which is what led to using the line “fresh as eggs” in their marketing campaign. The 4WKS pod shells took 18 months of research to perfect, and are made from sugarcane pulp, also known as bagasse, while the lid is made from vegetable fibres. Because even the logo stamp uses edible ink, the entire pod is compostable, and starts breaking down in four weeks, meaning it is gone in two months, just like an apple core. Although their first pods had to be produced in China due to the technology being unavailable locally, they are now working with a manufacturing company in Somerset West to bring the process closer to home. “We had to start somewhere,” says Larché, “but our ambition is to have the lowest impact on the plant, and the greatest impact on people.” To have four top roasters collaborating on such a product has been one of the brand’s biggest achievements, as has getting more people to swap over to using pods filed with freshly roasted coffee. Larché says that the main aim is to shift coffee culture and habits in a more conscious direction. “We have this grab, go, throw mentality, but we need to think more about what we use and how we dispose it. “We need to do better for our planet,” she insists, “but that doesn’t have to come at a compromise – we can still have the most amazing coffee at the push of a button.” No compromise for the planet or the palate. 4WKS is usually at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market but during lockdown it is doing home deliveries in Cape Town and the Winelands. 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.