“” 0
Taking coffee lovers towards environmentally responsible consumption, one kopi pod at a time.

brands that love people...#05

©Somewhere Else
"Amidst Tuesday’s hustle and bustle, our table talk came round to Simon, founder and CEO of NO HARM DONE, who shared with us his journey on starting a coffee brand for the good of our Earth and the people.”

How did you end up starting NO HARM DONE?
Being a bit of a Kopi fan-boy, I observed that the Singaporean Kopi culture appeared to have been virtually forgotten in office areas, hotels, and even supermarkets; where it has been supplanted by coffee options from huge international companies. But if Singaporeans loved their Kopi, why was that the case? After speaking to friends and family, it came down to two factors: availability and convenience. In both factors, the existing coffee capsule brands were very well positioned. Kopitiams, however, were left behind.

As such, I thought about it and decided to bring the quintessential Kopitiam experience to Singaporeans instead. The idea of Kopi capsules came to me, as capsules are convenient, allowing anyone to enjoy coffee at anytime in the comfort of their own homes and offices. After two years of sourcing for the right robusta blend and flavours, NO HARM DONE’s classic Kopi-O capsules were born.

What leads you to believe so strongly in this vision?
I noticed that while convenient, conventional coffee capsules were a huge problem for the environment. Though partially recyclable, they produce a significant amount of waste because most people find it simpler to throw them away than to clean and recycle them. An estimated 29,000 out of the 39,000 capsules produced every minute ends up in landfills, where they pollute and take up to 500 years to break down. The idea for NO HARM DONE is to provide convenient and sustainable product alternatives that take responsibility back from the consumer to the coffee company. We ensure that our products are all plastic and aluminium free; our coffee capsules are made of plant-based vegetal oils and cellulose that are 100% compostable and biodegradable.

You previously mentioned to us that compostable pods are thrown in the trash instead of recycled. Can you share more about this?
To begin with, coffee capsules are generally much better than their reputation. The biggest environmental impact of a coffee product is the coffee itself. A coffee capsule makes a cup with only 5g of coffee compared to a café that uses 15-20g of coffee for just an espresso shot. The negative impact of coffee capsules really comes from the capsule materials, most commonly made of aluminium, silicone or plastic. It’s harmful when it’s produced, consumed and disposed. Even when recycled, it requires enormous resources. Our pods are the world’s first coffee capsules that are “OK Compost Home” certified and are a 100% Bio-based, made of vegetable oil and cellulose. If you choose to compost them, that’s great. However, many do not have that option. Our compostable pods however, are perfectly safe to be disposed with regular trash as they cause no further harm than any other organic waste.

Actually, how much more difficult is it to compost at a scale that’s meaningful?

Industrial composting is not at a point where we can easily channel, sort and compost all compostable materials. But I believe that we have to start using sustainable material even if the system is not perfect yet. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem. Only when we stop using harmful single use materials and switch to bio-based alternatives, will the increased demand created drive the industry to make composting at scale feasible.

What does being a regenerative brand mean to you?

After taking everything we do into consideration, I believe that there must still be a net positive impact on the world. Simply making money for shareholders at the expense of the environment or farmers does not count here. Most companies are far from being neutral but even that doesn’t cut it anymore if we want to be truly regenerative. We see our brand as being a proactive agent of change.

How do you measure the impact your brand is delivering?

We track and see the impact sustainable farming has on our farmers and their communities. We know that for every planet-friendly pod we sell, an unsustainable option is not going off the shelf. We see the impact of our KOPI FOR A CAUSE initiative on elderly facing social isolation.

Our packaging designs for No Harm Done's revamp

How’s it going with No Harm Done these days? It's been a crazy year.
Its been a crazy year. We have always been working towards a mass market product to deliver the biggest impact we can, now the company is ready to scale and grow quickly. Our products are available at Cold Storage and even in premium hotels replacing unsustainable options. New country markets will follow soon.

Being a start-up, there must have been many difficult moments, could you share with us one pivotal incident? 
We recently went through a stage where we ran out of cash due to longer payment terms with our wholesale buyers. We survived but it was really intense. Imagine a healthy business that can’t make its payments anymore. I had to call all our suppliers one by one and come to agreements on how we can manage this temporary situation together. I am incredibly grateful for their support in this difficult time.

Now that the brand is gaining momentum, what’s the stretch goal for No Harm Done?
Our vision is to be Asia-Pacific's go-to option for beverage capsules, and a global role model for convenient sustainability.

Most precious lesson learned on this journey?
Don’t drink more than 6 Kopis a day if you want to sleep at night 😊  

Some advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
For everyone considering to start something on their own, I would say, just go for it. Don't over-plan. Start with a minimum viable product. Be open to your product changing along the way, and modify your product when you gain more insights from your customers.

Consider switching up your
kopi fix with No Harm Done
Try their products here


  • *Please click all the checkboxes to submit.