The initial raw material for the ingredient comes from the artisanal coffee production on the Kona Coast, said William Landers, CEO and founder of company. Landers spoke with NutraIngredients-USA as the recent SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, NV.
“We are working with the oldest coffee mill in the United States. In the US, coffee only grows in Hawaii,” Landers said.
Landers said his background was growing up in a family of corn farmers in central Illinois. So he said he was familiar with the kind of agricultural operations that are key to the brand’s supply chain viability.
“We do a wet milling and pulping process, and we do the drying on the site,” he said.
Landers said the ingredient has strong antioxidant properties, which could make it an attractive addition to powdered formulations. Landers said it could potentially have cardiovascular and joint health benefits.
“I think it’s the strongest water-based antioxidant out there,” he said. “And it has low caffeine and good amounts of fiber, protein and potassium. The ORAC scores are roughly six times that of the acai berry.”
Coffee fruit is the pulp that surrounds the ripe coffee berry, the kernel of which is roasted to make the raw material for the beverage. Landers said prior to his involvement, the pulp was a low grade waste material that could be used as a soil amendment or perhaps as a bulk feed additive. So the new ingredient has a sustainability story to tell.
“I like to call it up-cycling,” Landers said. “If you look at how big the industry is around the world, you are looking at 15 billion pounds of discarded coffee fruit.”
Expanding the base
Landers started the ingredient development several years ago in Kona, but said he knew for a viable ingredient he’d have to expand beyond that base. The company recently completed installing milling and drying equipment at a coffee production facility in Costa Rica. The Kona coffee market is unusual for an American agricultural commodity in that it is made up of small family plots and even tinier hobby farms, whereas the business in Costa Rica is done at industrial scale.
“There are 700 growers in Kona and most of the growers are older,” Landers said. “In Costa Rica you have more young people involved in the business, and the biggest farm I’ve been on there is 7,500 acres.”