Hi! My name is Vanessa and I am a co-founder of I Am Grounded, a snack company creating upcycled coffee treats and so much more!
I am originally from Colombia and come from a family of coffee entrepreneurs, food scientists and chefs! Lachlan grew up in a household of Ironman triathletes who love to cook and eat healthily. We both grew up fueling our bodies well and naturally, and both enjoy drinking good coffee!
In the Beginning
I was lucky enough to experience coffee from all angles growing up. From farming, harvesting, roasting and importing, I witnessed first-hand the huge waste problem associated with growing coffee. When my family migrated to Australia, I grew up in my parent’s coffee training and cafe businesses.
There I was learning to prepare coffee and eventually becoming a coffee trainer myself. After completing my double degree in Journalism and Political Science, I went back to Colombia to do some more training on growing coffee. It was here that I realised the huge waste potential of the fruit.
Ready for a New Challenge
A few years later, Lachlan and I were looking for more challenges in our lives. We were growing bored of our corporate lifestyles. I was working as a Marketing Executive and he as a Civil Engineer. With my knowledge and connections in the coffee industry and his love for cooking and healthy eating and started I Am Grounded. We wanted to make snacks that were for the modern-day eater!
Often we struggled to fuel ourselves during our busy days. A lot of the snacks available to us were drowning in unpronounceable ingredients with artificial and refined sugars and didn’t taste very good. We wanted to flip that on its head and teach people that coffee is more than just a drink. The fruit itself is incredibly nutritious, packed full of antioxidants. Also, it is considered a nootropic with caffeine and is a natural prebiotic! I mean it’s an incredible ingredient!
Coffee is a Fruit?
A common question I get about I Am Grounded is around coffee being a fruit. To answer this, I wrote this informative and easy-to-digest blog for any curious-minded people to learn more about coffee and its fruit.
This juicy red fruit doesn’t taste like you would expect, and instead resembles a berry-like flavour. The cherry is picked, washed, naturally processed, sorted, and de-pulped. This is how we retrieve the small seeds it encompasses. Next, the seeds eventually make their way down the coffee chain ending up in your home country as roasted green beans, and eventually brewed.
“THE WORLD IS CHANGED BY YOUR EXAMPLE,
NOT BY YOUR OPINION.”PAULO COELHO
The History of Coffee
Over a thousand years ago, the Oromo people of Ethiopia made what was arguably the world’s first energy snack. They mashed together goat fat and coffee cherries for a natural buzz. In the 1800’s, coffee became an imported good and began its notoriety in European trading houses.
Caffeine gave traders the burst of energy they needed to trade stocks and conduct business. Coffee made its way across the globe and our addiction to this delicious brew also grew! Today we consume roughly 3 billion cups a day.
When not upcycled at origin, the remaining pulp and skin of the coffee fruit is thrown into a pile of other cherries. Here it can break down and leaching into the surrounding environment.
Each year, millions of coffee drinkers sip their cups daily without knowing the truth inside. On a global scale, the coffee industry produces approximately 10 billion kilos of coffee fruit waste annually. Consequently, that’s about 16.6 million tonnes of CO2 or 0.2% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
To understand the huge impact, we must understand first that coffee is actually a cherry that grows on a shrub. At least 80% of the coffee fruit is wasted during processing. In fact, it is one of the only fruits where the seeds are consumed and not the fruit itself.
Packed Full of Antioxidants
Coffee fruit is rich in antioxidants, which are powerful compounds present in a variety of fruits, vegetables and superfoods that help fight free radicals to protect against oxidative stress and damage to cells. One type of these antioxidants is called flavonoids, which are a diverse group of those phytochemicals found in several fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are often responsible for the amazing array of colours in most fruits and veggies.
Also, flavonoids are also potent antioxidants that have been known to help support a properly functioning immune system. Furthermore, one specific polyphenol compound found in coffee fruit is chlorogenic acid. This can help to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. The antioxidants in the whole coffee fruit can be compared to 3 times more than Acai, with an ORAC value of roughly 343,900 μ mol TE/100g.
Promoting Brain Health
Early studies show that the coffee fruit can help contribute to your body’s BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), an essential protein. BDNF maintains healthy cognition and other brain-related processes such as mood and sleep (British Journal of Nutrition). Although it is still early days, this research is very exciting. It has been suggested that brain’s supply of BDNF could curb the possibility of mental illness.
Understanding Caffeine in Coffee
While the fruit can be lower in caffeine than coffee beans, it still can provide a gentle natural hit. Our two Lemon and Cocoa bars each contain 35.5mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of having a green tea or a weak cup.
Coffee That’s Mindful
The problem? We love coffee and enjoy all the aspects of a great cup. We also love our planet and like many people around the world, we are concerned about its sustainability. In coffee farming, the fruit is considered a byproduct with roughly 91% ending up as landfill, releasing greenhouse gas emissions and polluting local ecosystems.
Roughly translated that’s about 20 billion kilograms of coffee byproduct left to rot each year or 16.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
What impact does that have on our planet? More carbon in the atmosphere, the faster our planet will warm. This impacts communities at the forefront of this change. The longevity of growing great quality planet, the fertility of the soil, the future of clean rivers for communities and the sustainability of coffee itself are all impacted!
Ready for the Future
Change is happening! Evolution in the utilization and commercialization of the byproduct is leading to security and sustainability for farmers and pickers.
So far we are proud to say we’ve upcycled just over 7000 kilos of coffee fruit from becoming waste and through this project offsetting more than 6 tons of co2 emissions. All just from upcycling the coffee fruit!
Being first to market and pioneering a use for an under-commercialized ingredient means that we lead by example. As an impact business at the core, we have plans underway to work with Colombian coffee farmers on more exciting commercialization project. There is a possibility to create extra income from the fruit but also inspire the future possibilities of this fruit’s use!
I Am Grounded has made waves since teaming up with SnackMagic. hundreds and hundreds of boxes sent and winning over gift recipients and coffee lovers everywhere in Australia. Now, we want to invite you to be a part of the fun. If you’ve got products that can be lovingly curated into a gift box, we’d love to talk to you!