MEET MINUS COFFEE
What do you do when you are a Costa Rican coffee addict, with climate anxiety, and a passion for biotech and the future of food?
A couple of years ago, I started to raise funds and put together a fabulous team that would help me answer this question.
Today, I want to introduce you to Minus: coffee minus the beans.
Our first product is a cold brew made with fermentation and a combination of whole-food ingredients that are low in water and carbon emissions, and that can be sourced in the US, to achieve the bitterness, acidity, and smoothness of your favorite cold brew but with a fraction of the environmental footprint.
To validate our product, we asked a third party to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA), a process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment over the entire period of its life, thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and decreasing liabilities.
Results came back showing that our Minus cold brew uses 94% less water, generates 87% fewer carbon emissions, and needs 87% less land use when compared to traditional cold brew. In short: our approach works and it can make a difference for our planet.
WAIT, BUT WHY DO WE NEED MINUS COFFEE?
I love coffee, you love coffee, we all love coffee. Well, most of us: coffee is the second most consumed beverage after water. But coffee production is double trouble (if you are like me, you hear this song every time I read that phrase).
Coffee, a sensible crop, is grown in the coffee belt near the Equator. I like to say that it is a bit like me: under 25 degrees is too cold and above 30 degrees is too hot. Climate change is leading to changes in temperatures that are hindering the coffee plant’s ability to grow and thrive. Studies suggest that 50% of the land where we currently grow coffee will be unsuitable by 2050.
And I know that sounds far away, but natural disasters like floods, droughts, and frosts are affecting coffee plantations now. Once plantations get affected by one of those events, it’s extremely hard for farmers to recover.
Many of our colleagues in the industry have shared that some of their favorite farms have gone out of business suddenly after one of these adverse events. Everyone in the industry is concerned: “Climate change is going to play a bigger role in affecting the quality and integrity of coffee," Howard Schultz.
This predicted shortage in coffee supply is met with an increase in demand: “We predict that we will need twice as much as coffee – more probably three times as much – by the end of the century, with less than 50 percent of the land available. I think we have a problem we need to fix.”- Mark Illy, CEO of Illy coffee, said. This gap is also causing an increase in the price of coffee, which probably many of you have felt.
And unfortunately, that is not all. Do you know what is contributing to climate change? Coffee. Seriously, coffee is killing itself. Coffee ranks 6th as one of the most polluting crops in our value chain, its production is inefficient and energy and water intensive.
Our Mission is to create better products for the planet and people, and that use resources more efficiently. If we want to feed a couple extra billion people on this planet, we need to figure out a better way to produce our food. Our vision is to build a technology platform that allows us to transform inputs that are low in water use, low in carbon emissions, grown in the US, and by-products into delicious, valuable, sustainable products using fermentation.
We are starting with coffee because we don’t want to live in a world without coffee or a world without good coffee.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. Try Coffee Minus the complicated climate relationship, today!