World, Meet Coffee Flour, Your New Best Friend

Coffee production yields a large amount of a byproduct called coffee pulp. Sometimes the pulp is used as fertilizer but many times it ends up in our waterways. Thankfully, one man thinks he's found a way to put the pulp to work.

November 10, 2015
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America loves coffee. In fact, 54 percent of American adults drink coffee every single day. But even if you choose coffee that’s organic, fair trade, and shade-grown, coffee production can still be extremely wasteful. No matter how much farmers streamline the process, coffee production creates a byproduct called coffee pulp. And while some of the byproduct is useful as fertilizer, far too much of it ends up taking its toll on the surrounding environment. But one former Starbucks executive thinks he’s finally come up with a solution that makes use of the pulp and provides small, indigenous communities with a new revenue stream. By turning pulp into flour, Dan Belliveau is solving a number of problems with one thoughtful innovation.

The Problem with Pulp

The process of separating the coffee cherry from the beans produces loads of pulp, a byproduct that can be used to make tea as well as fertilizer. In all, about25 percent of leftover coffee pulp is transitioned into the rich fertilizer that’s used to grow coffee trees. Still,17 billion pounds of coffee cherry pulp is thrown away annually. This coffee waste can end up in ground water, lakes, and streams, stripping our waterways of oxygen and harming wildlife.

Putting Coffee Pulp To Work

As a result, coffee producers have been looking for a way to put coffee pulp to work. EnterCoffee Flour, a new product that’s the brainchild of former Starbucks executive Dan Belliveau. In his plight to come up with some use for coffee pulp, he realized that the used coffee cherries could be dried and milled into a nutrient dense flour. Belliveau thinks that Coffee Flour could divert billions of pounds of coffee waste from waterways.

Nutrient Dense and Delicious

Coffee Flour doesn’t taste like coffee. While it has a dark, rich flavor, it’s also bright and fruity. This brown-hued flour can be baked into cookies, energy bars, coffee cake, brownies, and hot cereals. In fact, Coffee Flour can be used for baking in many of the same foods as regular flour, but it’s much healthier. The pulp-derived flour isgluten-free, plus it contains five times more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 3 times the iron of fresh spinach, and 3 times more protein than kale. It’s nutrient dense, full of flavor, and it gives you a little boost. With around12 to 15 percent of the caffeine found in a regular cup of coffee. If you want to amp up the caffeine content, you can combine it with chocolate, which adds up to the caffeine in a single cup of coffee.

Boosting Coffee Flour Communities

Another main reason why Coffee Flour is winning praise is the positive impact it can have on communities. Belliveau wants the flour’s production to stay in local communities where the coffee pulp is produced in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and Vietnam. Creating a new product from the pulp waste means new jobs in areas that may be the first to feel thepains of global warming.

Specifically, global warming makes it easier for damaging pests to thrive, like the berry borer, a grazing predator, and coffee rust, a fungus that destroys coffee plants. Traditionally, these pests couldn’t survive the cool mountain air, but warming temperatures have meant drastically reduced yields in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and India.

The bottom line is Coffee Flour provides another industry to help these communities make the most out of the coffee crop that survives without doing much more work. One small community in Nicaragua created 70 new jobs, 90 percent of which went to women. What’s more, indigenous communities can learn to use the local flour in their own foods like tortillas and masa bread so they can survive with the crops that they have on hand. And if communities don’t want to use their leftover pulp to produce flour, they can opt out because producing the superfood flour is up the individual community.

Coffee Flour is a means of solving more than one problem with one product, boosting up communities through production and creating a healthy and versatile new flour.

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