The coffee pod market now supplies 96 million cups a day to caffeine fiends across the globe. But it’s also coming under increasing scrutiny for its wasteful packaging, which sends many tonnes of plastic to the landfill. Devon’s Will Little might just have a solution for those time-poor coffee drinkers: “I asked myself ‘Why don’t we have decent, high quality, top-of-the-class coffee in the instant category rather than boring, bland, bog standard coffee from who knows where?”
He went on to produce a faff-free, instant, freeze-dried coffee using high quality beans from the birthplace of coffee.
Little’s Ethiopian and Colombian coffees are now available in Waitrose and, rather than speed and convenience, flavour has at last been put front and centre of an instant. Little’s is also the first UK instant coffee brand to go carbon neutral.
Little and his wife, former fashion designer Caroline, took over the company created by Will’s American father Henry and Finnish mother Leila. They met at university in Sweden and opened a roastery in Turku, Finland, making a range of flavoured-coffees, which now comprises Gingerbread, Havana Rum, Rich Hazelnut, Swiss Chocolate, Island Coconut and Café Amaretto.
“Let’s face it, instant coffee can be a bit boring,” says Little, who had a career in graphic design before taking over the family business. “So we’re working really hard to shake things up. It still makes up three quarters of all retail coffee sales. We’re redefining what customers can expect in terms of flavour from instant coffee. We use a grade of beans rarely seen in instant coffee production.
“You need to use around 3kg of beans to produce 1kg of instant. This fact alone highlights why premium beans don’t normally make their way into instant coffee.”
The new Little’s Ethiopian Premium Instant Coffee uses Arabica beans, sourced from the Djimma zone in western Ethiopia. “It produces a sweet flavour with a fruity and zesty character. You’ll also find a hint of chocolate on the finish.”
Colombian Premium Instant coffee is an excelso-grade coffee from the Cordilleras mountains in the country’s Antioquia. “It has a distinct hazelnut flavour. As the coffee beans are grown at such high altitude, this coffee has a clean acidity and a lovely sweetness.”
“The instant category is dominated by global giants and there is very little genuine innovation. We’re here to show instant coffee doesn’t have to be boring. Our coffee is not just better quality but we use more coffee beans to make it. Our heritage is in coffee roasting so we respect the coffee.
“We have two hands on the front of the pack to represent the husband and wife team and the second-generation theme. We wanted to call on Scandi style and the US influence in our brand.”
The 100g jars retail at £4.99, with decaf and ground versions also available.
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