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Groundbreaking 'Green CoffeeTea' could change the market for green coffee extract, CEO says

24-Jun-2014
Last updated on 11-Jul-2014 at 00:21 GMT - By Maggie Hennessy
Green CoffeeTea's neutral, tea-like flavor profile stands alone or can be mixed with other flavors. The green coffee can also be extracted easily for use in RTD beverages without all the added sugar
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Following on the success of ReishiSmooth, a trademarked all-natural fermentation process that uses mushrooms to remove the bitterness from chocolate and coffee, food technology firm MycoTechnology is betting on the nutritional appeal of green coffee extract with the launch of a sweetener-free 100% green coffee beverage. 

Green CoffeeTea (which doesn’t actually contain any tea—though its flavor and color are reminiscent of it) targets consumers seeking the health benefits of green coffee extract who may not want to take a pill.

Made famous for its purported weight loss benefits on the Dr. Oz show in 2012, some peer-reviewed studies have also linked green coffee extract to possible weight loss (see here and here). But delivery formats of the extract have historically been limited due to its notable bitterness.

“Ever since green coffee extract appeared on Dr. Oz, it’s been selling like crazy, mostly in pill form because it’s too bitter to consume as a beverage,” Alan Hahn, CEO of MycoTechnology, told FoodNavigator-USA. “Green CoffeeTea is a really big change to the market. I, for one, hate taking pills. And I’m excited to bring a beverage to market that brings some health benefits and has a light, clean taste.”

The fermentation process removes bitterness, and thus the need for sugar

Green CoffeeTea is produced using the same MycoSmooth fermentation process MycoTechnology uses to create non-bitter coffee and chocolate.

By inoculating raw coffee beans with certain species of mushrooms, sugar, moisture and oxygen are removed (in effect, acting as food for the mushrooms) in exchange for beta-glucans, which stimulate immunity response, according to the firm. Following the seven-day fermentation period, the beans are ground and can then be steeped like tea or brewed like coffee.

An eight-ounce serving of Green CoffeeTea contains 30 mg of beta-glucans. The product also contains about 36% more chlorogenic acid—which purportedly triggers weight loss by changing metabolic rate—per serving than a typical green coffee extract supplement. (MycoTechnology has had both claims verified through independent lab tests and recommends two eight-ounce cups daily to derive the benefits, Hahn said.)

The taste is surprising

Green CoffeeTea contains the same level of caffeine as its roasted cousin—but that’s largely where the similarities end. “The taste is surprising,” Hahn said. “It tastes like green tea—a very light taste with no hint of coffee. It makes you realize that the flavor of coffee comes 100% from roasting.”

The coffee beans are sourced from multiple global markets—from Cameroon to Costa Rica and Columbia—with each region producing very different flavor profiles in the resulting coffee, even without roasting. Green CoffeeTea will be labeled sold according to bean variety, aside from one Arabica blend that MycoTechnology will also offer.

Confessing that he’s become a bit of a coffee “geek” through the testing process, Hahn observed: “Every origin is a unique flavor profile. Tanzanian coffee, grown on Mt. Kilamajaro, is bright with a lot of citrus taste. Then you go over to Columbian, which is a bolder, full-bodied coffee. And I call Costa Rican my every-person coffee. It’s smooth, delightful, and not going to insult anybody.”

The product’s neutral flavor profile also makes it a strong candidate for blending with other flavors or extracting it for use in RTD beverages (without all the added sugar), Hahn added.

“Jasmine and citrus would complement the flavor of the base beverage very well, because it’s so neutral and tastes like green tea,” he said. “It’s also competitively advantageous for firms to use an extract method with the green coffee, which is easy to do, to create RTD beverages that eliminate the need to add sugar, which has been the subject of a lot backlash when it comes to beverages.”  

Flexible business model enables MycoTech to ‘build a market’

Green CoffeeTea is available in three forms: as a private label finished product, semi-finished product and licensing technology for firms to create their own branded products. This three-pronged business model was a conscious choice by Hahn, who says he wanted to be flexible to help build a market for the product.

“Smaller companies typically want us to do private label, and bigger ones want to license it to create their branded products,” he said. “Ultimately, the goal is to license the technology to big companies, but to get there, you have to build the market, meaning consumers have to taste the product and there has to be a demand for it.”

Having this stair-step approach gives the different types of customers a range of options for selling direct to consumers, despite the increased complexity that comes with being flexible.

The product, which will become widely available within the next 12 months, has the potential to resonate well with the growing slice of consumers looking for “natural” weight management solutions and those participating in the so-called “quantified self-health movement” by tracking their fitness and nutrition on their mobile devices.

Interestingly though, MycoTechnology inked its first orders in China and Korea, which Hahn dually attributes to Asian markets’ tea-oriented culture and familiarity with a wide range of mushroom types (including those used in the fermentation process). “There’s not a lot of explanation required for those consumer markets,” he said, adding that taste tests went over well with Asian consumers, for whom the “tea-like” angle could provide a great bridge to coffee consumption.

The tea-like coffee angle resonates well with Asian markets

The company is also in discussions with one of the largest coffee companies in the world about licensing Green CoffeeTea for global production. To accommodate new orders, the firm is moving to a bigger facility in September—“with ten times our current capacity,” Hahn said.

“We’re really excited,” he added. “We think from a product acceptance point of view, it’s going to be really fast. Whether you’re looking for the weight loss benefits or not, it’s a great-tasting beverage,” Hahn said. “I like it in morning; my wife likes it in the afternoon. It’s not going to be a shock to anybody’s system."

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