NO HARM DONE’s Nespresso-compatible capsules are everything a KOPI lover needs

2 0
Read Time:9 Minute, 28 Second

One thing is for certain: Singaporeans love their coffee, whether it is a traditional Kopi-O in a bag or an elegant iced latte.

Currently valued at over S$270 million, the coffee business in Singapore is expected to increase in value over the next few years. And as the Fourth Wave of coffee arrives on our shores, from coffee capsules to ready-to-drink cold brews, the sector is still showing no signs of slowing down and is being propelled by the epidemic.

However, NO HARM DONE’s founder and CEO, Simon Lieberum, wasn’t overly thrilled about it. Simon, a German ex-pat who has lived in Singapore for ten years, fell in love with the Kopi culture here, with all of its lively Kopitiams. He also observed that the Singaporean Kopi culture appears to have been virtually forgotten in office areas, hotels, and even supermarkets, where it has been supplanted by coffee options from huge international companies.

And some of what he says is accurate. In addition to being more acidic due to the use of arabica beans, ready-to-drink coffee options typically come in aluminium and plastic capsules, which, though recyclable, still produce a significant amount of waste because most people find it simpler to throw them away than to clean and recycle them.

As such, Simon decided to bring that quintessential Kopitiam experience to Singaporeans instead, in the comfort of their homes and offices. After two years of research and sourcing for suitable robusta beans – which are healthier than your regular coffee – and figuring out the right blend of flavours, NO HARM DONE’s Singapore Kopi-O capsules were born.

We spoke to Simon recently to learn more about his love for Kopi, the birth of NO HARM DONE, his journey as an entrepreneur and more.

TVM: What does the traditional Kopi culture mean to you and how are you trying to preserve it with NO HARM DONE?

Simon: I came to Singapore 10 years ago and fell in love with the Kopi culture. I was amazed at how a seemingly simple beverage was such an integral part of the social fabric of Singapore, bringing together people from all walks of life. You could sit for hours in the Kopitiams watching the uncles and aunties pouring the dark liquid from pot to pot, weaving in a tale or two in the process!

However, this integral part of local culture seemed quickly forgotten when you stepped away from the streets. In offices, hotels and homes you’d see coffees imported by global conglomerates. The supermarkets were stacked with these imported coffees, essentially multinational conglomerates pushing Western coffees, in unsustainable plastic or aluminium capsules, into Asia-Pacific.

And as I settled down in Singapore and had a family of my own, this local Kopi culture was something I really wanted to preserve. I started asking my friends and family, and many of them told me that they would prefer having more coffee options available in a convenient form for their homes and workplaces. Hence, sparked the idea of having Kopi in convenient capsules, and NO HARM DONE was born!

TVM: Please share more about the R&D process that went behind the creation of Singapore Kopi-O beans.

Simon: All our coffee beans are grown in Asia. We source locally wherever possible to avoid having beans shipped around the world when we can get them locally. For our bestselling SG Kopi-O, it begins with Indonesian robusta beans, expertly roasted with sugar and margarine to develop the trademark toasty taste reminiscent of the iconic Kopi-O you can get in the Kopitiams, which are based on traditional recipes. Our challenge was to recreate that experience in a tiny compostable capsule using only 5.7g of Kopi per 110 ml serving. The balance of roast intensity ground coffee weight, and grind size make for the perfect cup. We pride ourselves on having the same Kopitiam taste that people love and often get excited feedback from customers.

TVM: How are these beans healthier than regular coffee?

Simon: SG Kopi-O is essentially kosong, as there is no additional sugar added after the traditional roasting process. Compared to the Kopi bought in stores, our freshly brewed cup is less acidic and bitter. It leaves a very pleasant aftertaste and is gentle on your stomach.

TVM: Please share more about the process of coming up with the various Asian-inspired flavours.

Simon: I can vividly recall stepping into the hawker centre for the first time and staring at the order menu from the drink stall. Slightly overwhelmed, I tried my luck and asked the aunty for an iced latte to go. I received a big smile and a Kopi-C peng dabao in return. That was love at first sight. This was what inspired me to create Kopitiam-inspired beverages and drinks which celebrate Asian coffees. Today, our slogan is Kopitiam at Home. We cover the classic Kopi beverages but venture further and add a modern twist to our drinks. With our Thai Iced Tea, we are exploring other Southeast Asian classics and landed a hit. The fragrant tea flavour paired with its authentic orange colour takes your senses right to the bustling streets of Bangkok.

TVM: How has your personal journey as a founder been so far?

Simon: Starting a new business is definitely not an easy ride. I think ‘rollercoaster’ is an apt description for the last four years. From sleepless nights to ecstatic joy, it’s all in the package. Especially at the early stage when I used to do everything myself. It can feel lonely at times and doubts creep in. Is this going to work? What if I fail and what does that mean for my family? What really helped me in my journey was the social and environmental focus of NO HARM DONE. Even when times get rough and nothing seems to work, the belief to be doing the right thing, something worthwhile regardless of its financial outcome, carried me through many lows.

Being open to feedback and letting consumer and market demand teach you were crucial for the success of NO HARM DONE. We had many product iterations and even a recent entire rebranding to get to the point where we are today. Founders like myself work with assumptions of what consumers would like and nobody is always right. Most of my assumptions, in fact, were wrong and needed strategic adjustments over time. That is okay and I am utterly grateful for all the guidance and feedback that helped us along the way.

I do not consider myself an ex-pat in Singapore as this is my home, my family is Singaporean and so are my friends and colleagues. I have nothing but love for this country and its people. The opportunities I was provided here can never be repaid and I am proud to give back to society through employment opportunities and our social initiative, Kopi For A Cause, which helps the elderly in Singapore who are facing social isolation.

TVM: What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Simon: Nobody believed that consumers would buy Kopi-O in capsule form. Many investors didn’t buy into our idea and asked us to prove the concept first. So we started with S$1000 and bootstrapped all the way. That was really hard. I even did our first packaging design and logo in PowerPoint. It wasn’t great, but enough to start selling. With no knowledge of advertising, we heavily relied on recommendations and great reviews. We had one type of organic coffee and sold it in 100 capsule boxes. Interestingly, we got really popular in certain areas of Singapore, for example, Bukit Timah. Our early customers were mostly families in landed houses that happily paid a little extra for an eco-friendly alternative.

But, this came with limitations to scaling the company and brought our first identity crisis upon us. Did we want to be another eco-chic brand that served the wealthy few? Should we give up and do something else? We voted ‘NO’ and decided to undergo a rebranding. If we really wanted to create an impact, we needed to address the mass market. We wrote ‘Impact over Perfection’ on our company value wall and decided that we don’t want to sit around twiddling our thumbs and talking about how to change the world. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to make a difference, one capsule at a time.

TVM: Can you share some of the main highlights in your journey with NO HARM DONE so far?

Simon: We are committed to creating employment opportunities for the elderly. Our very senior team members are my personal highlight. The level of passion and commitment they bring to the table is outstanding. Skills can be learned, but the right work attitude is hard to come by. This generation of Singaporeans is close to my heart. 65 and above, hearing loss, weak legs? You are welcome here! 

TVM: Please talk about the sustainability aspect of your brand.

Simon: I strongly believe that people need more commonly available sustainable options. Products that can replace the unsustainable ones we have learned to love. Sustainable alternatives are at the same level of convenience but designed with sustainability at their core. Sustainability and perfection do not go well together if we want to drive change and create impact. Preaching the perfect way might annoy consumers instead of encouraging change. However, a gentle nudge towards a small change might go a long way. 

NO HARM DONE transforms delicious beverages into convenient little Nespresso-compatible planet-friendly capsules to enjoy at home or work. NO HARM DONE is plastic free and our plant-based capsules are compostable. We use recycled packaging, which can be further recyclable and compostable. We give back with every capsule, supporting the elderly in social isolation with your help. Lastly, we source ethically, so everyone in our supply chain benefits from your morning brew.

TVM: Can you share some tips and tricks on making the perfect coffee brew?

This is my go-to choice on a Monday morning. Pop one capsule of SG Kopi-O into your Nespresso machine. Press the espresso button two times, that makes for a stronger brew of 80 ml compared to the recommended lungo of 110 ml. Add a handful of ice cubes into your reusable coffee to-go cup and fill it up with OATSIDE’s Barista Blend Milk. Enjoy the magic.

TVM: What are some of the new and exciting coffee flavours in the pipeline? Also, any upcoming expansion plans for the brand?

Simon: We have just launched two new Kopi flavours. First is a Choco Kopi, which is our toasty SG Kopi-O with a malty chocolate infusion. Basically a hug in a mug. The second new launch is a Gula Melaka Kopi, think caramelised coconut sugar, giving your favourite brew a decadent twist. From December onwards, NO HARM DONE will be available at Cold Storage stores island-wide. We are also entering more partnerships with hotels. We are also planning to venture into Malaysia and Indonesia in 2023.


Learn more at https://noharmdone.com Get S$5 off your first subscription order and a free countertop coffee tin with the code SUBSCRIBEME.

About Post Author

Surabhi Pandey

A journalist by training, Surabhi is a writer and content consultant currently based in Singapore. She has over seven years of experience in journalistic and business writing, qualitative research, proofreading, copyediting and SEO. Working in different capacities as a freelancer, she produces both print and digital content and leads campaigns for a wide range of brands and organisations – covering topics ranging from technology to education and travel to lifestyle with a keen focus on the APAC region.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: