Brewed coffee’s $74 billion now a coveted foodstuff
A Perspective by Dave Burke
It’s happened before in a ”big” food category. Long before. Approximately 1,500 years ago, the Mayans began using cocoa beans to create a celebrated liquid they called xocoatl or “bitter water.” We know it as hot chocolate, and a beverage category was born. Fast-forward to 1830, when this luxury beverage was first transformed into an edible form. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Milton Hershey began experimenting with boiled milk, sugar and cacao beans in an effort to create affordable edible version of liquid chocolate that could be mass-produced. Consumers wanted the unique and pleasurable taste of their hot chocolate, but needed an easier way to enjoy it at different parts of the day in convenient ways. Annually, each U.S. consumer enjoys $80+ worth of solid chocolate a year, far eclipsing the beverage that is hot chocolate. A massive $26 billion category exists today.
Coffee as a beverage traces its roots back to the Ethiopian plateau in 800 A.D. Our best insight indicates a goat herder (yep) named Kali observed his goats exhibiting great energy following eating fallen berries from a specific tree. The bean was bitter and didn’t catch on until a local monk boiled the berries to create a solution that would keep away during lengthy evening prayers. Wave one occurred in the mid-20th century when well-known brands made great tasting brewed coffee available for the home. Wave two occurred in the late-20th century after the rise of the coffee-shop-on-every corner. Many today feel we are in wave three, the rise of the artisanal coffee of exotic origins, made “just for me”. These “waves” have created an enormous $74 billion beverage category experiencing healthy growth. American’s now consume over 480 million cups of coffee each morning. But unlike chocolate, the consumer in 2018 can’t enjoy coffee as a foodstuff.
Until now. A beverage becomes a food, again.
Miami-based Tierra Nueva is a technology company that has developed a process to transform the coffee bean, the entire bean, into an incredible tasting edible food. All coffee, no chocolate, no waste, anywhere, anytime consumption. And the really special part? Over 1,000 flavors found in edible coffee that the consumer can’t experience with brewed coffee. I’m grateful and humble to work with the food technologists at Tierra Nueva. The fourth “wave” is upon us.
If drinkable chocolate became a $26 billion food category, how big will the category be for edible coffee? Keep watching. And eating.