New cof­fee flour means you can eat your morn­ing caf­feine fix

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

EV­ERY cof­fee bean roasted in the world forms the seed of an equally sig­nif­i­cant sweet cherry; but, be­fore Dan Bel­liveau, this de­li­cious fruit was des­tined to be­come a rot­ting mass of red-brown goo.

He started sav­ing the wasted cof­fee cherry to con­vert into a nu­tri­ent­dense new in­gre­di­ent: Cof­fee Flour, which is al­ready be­ing sprin­kled into the muf­fin mixes at Ap­ple and HSBC cafe­te­rias in Lon­don and the US.

“The pie is just too big, we could be a quinoa or acai sell­ing for $10 (R135) a pound but it’s about mov­ing the vol­ume of waste for us,” Bel­liveau said.

“When we ex­per­i­mented with the first few hun­dred pounds, the Mex­i­can mill man­ager thought we were crazy and wrote ‘Project Caca’ on the tag of the bags of brown flour, but it helped us learn what per­cep­tions we had to get over,” Bel­liveau said.

The lightly earthy-tast­ing bean by-prod­uct is made by dry­ing and grind­ing the fruit into a pow­der as fine as wheat flour, but more nu­tri­tious – with nearly five times more fibre, a trace of caf­feine and more an­tiox­i­dants per gram than pome­gran­ate.

The for­mer head of en­gi­neer­ing at Star­bucks, Bel­liveau be­gan the com­pany by pig­gy­back­ing the green bean cof­fee trade.

“I had been to the mills but, like most, your fo­cus isn’t the waste stream, you fol­low the cof­fee bean and don’t see what’s be­hind the cur­tain.”

Af­ter hear­ing of cof­fee farms with 40-acre (16 hectares) plots waist-deep in cherry pulp, Bel­liveau had a light bulb mo­ment.

“I sud­denly thought: Why can’t you make it a food? The farmers want the best fruit to cre­ate the per­fect seed for them. All the con­di­tions that make the per­fect cof­fee bean are the same for the fruit,” he said.

In­stead of dis­card­ing the cof­fee fruit cher­ries, farmers are paid three cents a pound for dry­ing it at the bean mills.

The fruit also weighs in at a third of the weight of green beans a bag, so has in­tro­duced a new type of lighter labour that un­ex­pect­edly re­sulted in the cre­ation of 100 new jobs at their Nicaraguan wet mill, 70% of which em­ployed women.

En­vi­ron­men­tally, while some of the fruit waste was pre­vi­ously used as fer­tiliser, 80% would still be dis­carded, pol­lut­ing land­fills, ditches and rivers near the mills. Thirty per­cent of the cof­fee flour must also stay in the ori­gin coun­try to re­duce the car­bon foot­print, while pro­vid­ing a source of en­demic eco­nomic growth.

Nes­tle, Pepsi Co and Kraft are test­ing the prod­uct and, in their flag­ship Seat­tle roast­ery, Star­bucks sells baked cof­fee-flour muffins and brown­ies.

From the days of Bel­liveau be­ing stopped by Mex­i­can bor­der guards sus­pi­cious of his brown pow­der pack­ages, cof­fee flour has come a long way.

Ev­ery year 2 bil­lion kg of the fruit are thrown away; but, by re­think­ing the cherry as a prod­uct, this could shake up the cof­fee econ­omy, the re­sult of which could soon mean you munch­ing in­stead of lap­ping up to­mor­row’s craved cup. – The UK In­de­pen­dent

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: Cof­fee flour made from cherry pulp is en­vi­ron­men­tally sound.

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