Australia-based snack bar start-up I Am Grounded has released the first energy bar made from coffee waste by upcycling the nutrient-rich coffee fruit.
In a bid to innovate in the energy bar sector while tackling agricultural waste, I Am Grounded is using coffee fruit — also known as coffee cherry — the fleshy, round stone fruit which surrounds the coffee bean encased inside the fruit’s pit.
Coffee energy bars
Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world behind water, bringing with it, an enormous amount of coffee waste. I Am Grounded’s website says the new bars harness “the power of upcycling” in order to contribute “positive environmental and social change in coffee producing and coffee drinking communities.” It’s doing that by promoting a closed-loop approach to coffee production that also offers new revenue streams to coffee-producing communities.
It’s a cause near and dear to I Am Grounded’s founder Vanessa Murillo’s heart.
“I grew up surrounded by coffee, having immigrated from Colombia as a child and working in my family’s coffee business from a young age,” Murillo said in a statement. “Through my father’s work in the Agri-tech space, I was introduced first-hand to the devastating environmental impact from wasted coffee fruit.”
Building on Murillo’s Colombian roots, I Am Grounded sources its coffee fruit from a small number of micro-lot coffee farms in Colombia. “Our mission is to provide an additional revenue stream to the farmer along with a waste removal alternative,” the company says.
Upcycling coffee plants
About 40 percent of the coffee plant is wasted during coffee bean extraction. As a food source, coffee cherries are rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin B2, magnesium, and a range of antioxidants. Agricultural waste from coffee contributes to global warming by releasing harmful methane into the environment.
I Am Grounded says the average coffee drinker will consume roughly 11kg of coffee beans yearly, which creates about 57kg of coffee fruit waste. The company upcycles around 50 grams of coffee fruit in every snack bar. “I was shocked to see the amount of waste associated with coffee farming and I was inspired to make a difference,” Murillo said.
The vegan snack bars, which come in five flavors including blueberry macadamia, lemon coconut, espresso peanut butter, cocoa almond, and salted caramel, are available at Woolworths stores across the country.
Upcycled coffee is being tapped as a resource in other industries. A review published earlier this year looked at coffee’s potential in cosmetics. Danish biotech company Kaffe Bueno is using upcycled coffee grounds in its Kaffibre —a caffeine-free, low-fat, protein-rich source of insoluble dietary fiber for use in baked goods, pasta, and snack bars, while Nestlé Australia launched Nescafé Nativ Cascara, a line of beverages made from upcycled coffee berry husks that uses up the discards from coffee harvesting, tackling food waste while also providing growers with a new business opportunity.