A Brooklyn-based startup run by two young entrepreneurs is looking to shake up the energy drink market by harnessing the energizing power of cascara – an agricultural waste product of the coffee-making process.
Cascara, otherwise known as coffee fruit, is the fruit which grows around coffee beans. It is rich in caffeine, potassium and antioxidants, but discarded in vast quantities when harvesting coffee beans. Today, the vast majority of the 20 billion pounds of cascara produced annually around the world gets dumped in garbage facilities, rivers and streams. But it has not always been overlooked.
A thousand years ago, the Oromo people of Ethiopia grew coffee plants for fruit and created the world’s first energy bars by mashing cascara with goat fat. In Ethiopia, Yemen and Bolivia, cascara has been brewed as tea for hundreds of years.
The Nomad Trading Co., set up in August 2016 by college friends Max Keilson and Jon Epstein, has produced two beverages inspired by the above-mentioned traditions. First was an energizing tea called Cascara, brewed with coffee fruit and which tastes like a fruity black tea. Now, in response to customers demanding a fizzy version of the drink which comes in a can, they are launching a carbonated energy drink called Nomad Energy.
The company hopes the drink will appeal to consumers seeking a healthier and more sustainable alternative to chemically-charged energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, which currently dominate the market.
Nomad Energy uses just six ingredients – cascara, water, lemon juice, maple syrup, sea salt and carbon dioxide – but contains as much caffeine as a 12 oz cup of of coffee or a standard energy drink. The beverage is also rich in both magnesium and potassium and contains just a fraction of the sugar present in standard energy drinks.
The company’s core belief is “radical sustainability” at all levels of the supply chain, an idea which centers on the creation a secondary market for one of the world’s largest scale underused agricultural waste products. The company purchases cascara from a family-run farm in Costa Rica which would otherwise discard the fruit, which helps generate additional revenue, improve facilities and provide better working conditions for staff. For energy drink consumers, the company is offering a healthier option for those fed up with the jitters and sugar crashes which come from mainstream beverages.
Currently, the Brooklyn-based startup has raised $16,102 on Kickstarter with three days remaining for further pledges – over three times their initial $5,000 goal.