Coffee boards the functional beverages bandwagon

Related tags Coffee

Coffee has never been considered a healthy drink - until now, that
is. Jess Halliday reports on two companies that have
developed ways of making America's favorite pick-me-up better for

Integrated Pharmaceuticals (IntePharm) revealed today that it has come up with the patent-pending technology to add nutrients such as calcium to hot beverages, without having any discernible effect on taste or flavor.

What is believed to be the world's first fortified coffee is expected to be on shelves by the end of the year, thanks to the signing of a non-exclusive license and exclusive supply agreement with an undisclosed distributor, which will market IntePharm's coffee additive under its own brand name.

Meanwhile, an antioxidant coffee called Caffe Sanora, made using Applied Food Sciences' (AFS) HealthyRoast technology has recently gone on sale through selected retailers.

The HealthyRoast method involves pre-soaking antioxidant rich green coffee beans prior to roasting then, after roasting, quenching them in the same liquid. This, according to AFS, boosts the level of polyphenols, which mop up harmful free radicals, in brewed coffee.

AFS was awarded the patent for HealthyRoast in October 2003.

According to the latest annual report from the National Coffee Association of the USA, 49 percent of adults are coffee-drinkers, averaging 3.4 cups a day.

And the rising tide of health-consciousness may mean consumers could be convinced to switch to a healthier brew, especially as IntePharm says products resulting from its technology will carry an "affordable"​ price tag.

But it is not yet a given that the choice will be consumers' to make, as the skepticism of coffee manufacturers has put the brakes on AFS's mass market plans.

AFS CEO Loretta Zapp told a seminar on ingredients branding at Expo West this month that she initially approached major market players with a view to developing antioxidant extensions to their existing brands but they all passed, citing conflict with their existing products, which would be made to look unhealthy in comparison.

So AFS took the business plan back to the drawing board and launched Caffe Sanora under its own steam. Rather than being an end in itself, Zapp hopes Caffe Sanora will prove the validity of the idea and convince the manufacturers to introduce products containing the HealthyRoast technology.

IntePharm's projections, however, are not capped by the same cautiousness. It says that the distributor expects to purchase around $2.5 million of the coffee product in the first year alone.

The agreement allows IntePharm to sell the coffee additive to other interested parties and explore other licensing opportunities which could see the technology applied to other beverage products.

Related topics R&D Tea & coffee

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