Apr 18, 2024
by Karl Smith
Nespresso and Zèta Hit the Grounds Running With a New Coffee Waste Sneaker
by Karl Smith
Apr 18, 2024

Coffee, fashion and footwear aren’t what you’d call mutually exclusive. In fact, there’s a long tradition of the two socio-cultural concepts connecting; from the Prada Foundation in Milan to the Kitsune cafe in Paris to Human Made’s collaboration with Blue Bottle in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, the idea of community has always created a neat Venn Diagram between the two.

This latest venture from Nespresso and French Earth-friendlier footwear startup Zèta, however, is taking that symbiosis somewhat more literally – not just a complimentary pairing, but a manufacturing partnership,

Collaborating on what they’re calling the RE:GROUND collection, the unlikely pair has created a line of 80% recycled sneakers, also known as the Moka, comprising “Latte,” “Ristretto,” and “Cappuccino” colorways, made using Nespresso coffee waste and not to be confused with (though, perhaps inevitably to be confused with) Nike Grind.

Of course, that 80% isn’t all courtesy of Nespresso – though each shoe does contain the remains of twelve of the Swiss brand’s espressos – with the upper constructed from a vegetable-based and pesticide-free 73% Bio PU with 27% recycled polyester, a number which includes 50% corn. Elsewhere, the laces are made from 100% recycled plastic, the insole from 10% coffee grounds and 90% recycled cork, and the outsole crafted from 10% coffee grounds and 90% recycled rubber.

It’s also worth noting that, as a vegan-friendly sneaker, there’s not only zero anima-derived materials in the main construction but also in the glue, which is made from recovered latex. Even the flyer that comes with each shoe contains 30% recycled paper and 15% coffee residue.

It’s an interesting move for Nespresso – not only in the sense that it’s a fairly extreme sideways step, but also in relation to the criticisms often levelled at the coffee pod specialists for the comparative waste generated by their product compared to more traditional ways of brewing up a hot cup of your preferred roast.

It is worth remembering, though – not that we’re prone to defending the honor of Nestle-owned brands – that Nespresso pods are aluminium, not plastic, and the Swiss outfit has been running a recycling scheme since 2010. Of course, this relies heavily on the end user and in 2019 the majority of used Nespresso pods were still heading to landfill. Less packaging is pretty much always better than more packaging.

Aesthetically, there’s not much innovation to speak of when it comes to what RE:GROUND is offering – the sneakers look unexceptionally functional in a day-to-day kind of way. That being said, there’s a positive side to that anonymous quality: too often the more sustainably-inclined a product claims to be, the more obtrusive it wears those credentials on the sleeve of its design.

And, while there’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, there’s a degree to which making a statement is a part of the act of buying and wearing the product – it’s also true that this isn’t always the way to win hearts and minds. Sometimes, after all, it’s proof that something can be kinder to the planet and still slot in to your peoples’ everyday lives that’s needed more than anything.

Priced at €155 EUR, which comes out at around $165 USD, the RE:GROUND Moka sneaker is available now, directly from Zèta’s website.