Can 44 Billion Tons of Coffee "Waste" be Delicious? ☕

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Happy the Friday, fellow nerds! It’s a dreary one here in Modern Health Nerd land, ☔ but I’ve got an uplifting Weekly Find for you—straight out of Brisbane, Australia. It’s also an eye-opener for those of us who love our daily caffeine …☕

Read on to see how I Am Grounded is harnessing the power of upcycling to conquer some of the biggest problems in the coffee industry.


The Case of the Discarded Coffee Fruit

Did you know the coffee bean is actually a seed? That’s right, and it only comprises about 20% of a coffee plant’s entire yield. The other 80% is coffee fruit. And the world drinks so much coffee that, once the beans are harvested, there’s nearly 44.1 billion pounds of fruit left over.

What happens to all of it? Take a deep breath and steady yourself if you hate food waste: It gets dumped into landfills, 😱 where it sits around decomposing and releasing excess CO2 into the air.

Even if the CO2 wasn’t a factor, that’s a lot of otherwise viable food that could be put to good use. Vanessa Murillo and Lachlan Powell, co-founders of I Am Grounded, agree — and they’ve developed a business model based on the mission of making positive changes in the coffee supply chain.

Image by zack326 from Pixabay

From Great Waste to Great Taste

Vanessa was born in Columbia, so she knows a thing or two about waste in the coffee industry. ☕️ Through I Am Grounded, she and Lachlan redirect discarded coffee fruit and upcycle it into a food-grade extract, which they then use in their products. The unique snack bars currently come in three flavors:

  • Espresso & Tahini
  • Lemon 🍋 & Coconut 🥥
  • Cocoa & Almond Butter

Everything in the bars is actually food. Take a look at the ingredient list, and you’ll find some of the best and plant-based 🌱 options for nutrient-dense snacking, including nuts, dates and nut/seed butters. By focusing on this combination of organic and whole-food ingredients, I Am Grounded is able to produce snacks that are good for the body and the environment.

The flavors have been a hit with consumers in test so far. Although the coffee fruit does contribute a natural caffeine content somewhere between green tea and espresso (depending on which bar you choose), it doesn’t taste like coffee. So, you can support the mission of reducing food waste whether or not you’re a fan of the traditional morning brew.

Amazing extra💥bonus: Coffee fruit is a rich source of polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that can combat cell damage, slow cellular aging, reduce inflammation and slash your risk of developing chronic diseases. 💪🏻

A Truly Benevolent Snack

But I Am Grounded does more than just make tasty food. They’re also committed to promoting a better life for coffee growers. Vanessa and Lachlan work with micro-lot farmers in Columbia to provide an additional revenue stream through the upcycling of the coffee fruit. It’s a win-win-win situation: The farmers receive more money for their labor, the coffee fruit stays out of landfills and consumers get a snack option they can feel good about buying and eating.


The coffee fruit bars from I Am Grounded are currently only available in Australia, 🇦🇺 but I can see this as something that could — and should! — catch on. Upcycling isn’t some fancy trend; it’s a viable way to take nutritious industry “waste products” and turn them into tasty foods that benefit every stakeholder in the supply chain.

Did this make you think differently about your daily cup of joe? Share your insights! 👇🏻👇🏻

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