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Kaffe Bueno: getting more out of coffee

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“Attitude is all that matters. You need positive energy and a willingness to make it happen. If you see only limitations, of course you’re going to get stuck,” says Juan Medina, co-founder and CEO of Kaffe Bueno, a small company based in Copenhagen that aims to change people’s relationship with one of the most popular things in our lives: coffee.

9 billion kilos of coffee are consumed yearly worldwide and the residue is treated as waste, left to decompose in landfills, generating tons of harmful methane or, at best, burned for energy. “The yearly environmental impact of coffee waste decomposition is equivalent to 10 million car emissions. Furthermore and most importantly all the ingredients which we are aiming to replace are derived petrochemicals, synthetics with an energy-intensive manufacturing process or unsustainable and imported such as the case of palm oil,” Juan adds.

Instead, Kaffe Bueno proposes to get more out of this coffee ‘waste’, by upcycling it. “The bio-refinery process allows us to take the coffee grounds remaining after your brew, which have a high organic load, and create things like oil for cosmetic applications and food, or fibre used as an exfoliator, extending its life and making all the farming and transport from 10,000km away worth it” Juan explains.

Originally from Colombia, Juan and his co-founders grew up around coffee: “Coffee in Colombia, is way more than only a beverage. Denmark offered a very business-friendly environment, with a strong focus on sustainability and biotech, so we set up shop back in 2016.”

“Our vision is to transform the way people perceive coffee, from looking at it as their caffeine fix, to look at it as a sustainable health elixir.” By extending coffee's economical life and minimising its harmful emissions, Kaffe Bueno are able to give back to the people to whom we owe coffee’s existence: the farmers. “1% of our profits are directed to educational projects for young coffee farmers back in Colombia,” explains Juan.

In 2020, Kaffe Bueno received an equity investment from The Yield Lab, a venture capital fund focussing on sustainable investments, backed by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. This allowed them to push ahead with product development. “We’re a small company. It’s challenging to break through the various barriers. Our capital expenditure is high, and petrochemical competitors are usually cheaper. But we are working on it and want to develop different lines of products to target diseases like cancer, obesity and skin conditions. We also want to build a bio-refinery and scale-up. Ultimately, nothing worth it is easy,” he adds.

Company: Kaffe Bueno (Denmark)

Type of business: bioscience

Number of employees: 7

Financing purpose: product development

EIF financing: EFSI Sub-Window 1

Financial intermediary: The Yield Lab Europe

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Denmark, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/dk

 

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