New coffee flour means you can eat your morning caffeine fix
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.