Blog post -
"Open innovation creates new opportunities in the area of sustainability"
The circular transformation must extend outside of our own business to make a real difference. We want to involve both coffee farmers and consumers, and everyone in between, on our journey ahead. But we do not have all the solutions yet, and we have to work innovatively both internally and externally to find them. The value chain perspective also requires digital enablers to tear down barriers like geographical distance and language. The innovation department at Löfbergs are focusing on digital and circular innovation – always with the purpose to contribute to our sustainability work.
We know that we are good at importing, roasting and selling coffee. We have been doing so for more than 115 years. But we also know that 99% of the nutrients of the coffee are lost on the way to the cup, and that there is a great potential in making use of the full value of the coffee. In 2020, we founded Circular Coffee Community, a network to pursue open innovation for circular transformation in the world of coffee. Open innovation gives us more knowledge and experience in the projects at the same time as the opportunities for external use of our innovations increase.
Circular Coffee Community offers a platform for networking, innovative partnerships and commercial collaboration. We share our insights, experiences and knowledge to develop innovative and circular initiatives for new processes, products and services throughout the value chain of coffee. Today, we are more than 30 dedicated companies, organisations and research institutions that work with circular coffee solutions.
Over the last year, we have experimented with the flavour profile of dried skins from the coffee cherry – cascara. It turns out that the fruity notes of cascara complement a darker roasted coffee very well. Together with some of our partners in Circular Coffee Community – Coffee Cherry Company and Kawacom – we are now looking on solutions to import cascara via the digital platform Era of We. The development of a new product, a coffee cascara blend, could create new sources of income for coffee farmers as they can sell both coffee beans and cascara.
In a nearby project, the Danish Technological Institute is now carrying through a number of analyses in connection with extracting antioxidants from cascara. There is a clear need for natural antioxidants in feed and food, and cascara is rich in just that.
Circular Coffee Community’s collection of innovative ways to recycle coffee waste – the Solutions Catalogue – is filled with solutions developed by community members. One exciting example comes from BRØL, a Copenhagen-based microbrewery that has made beer from stale bread and coffee grounds. Every beer bottle contains 2-5 slices of bread and 3-30 grams of grounds – a great example on how food waste can be used as raw material. There is also Easy Food that uses coffee fibres from the company Kaffe Bueno as an ingredient in their tasty cinnamon buns. After extracting the oil, the spent coffee grounds can become a source of fibre that is low in fat and rich in proteins.
Circular Coffee Community is an important catalyst for innovation and change. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to find new solutions that can add value to our customers at the same time as it strengthens the sustainability in our business in different ways – for example by reducing our waste or contributing to better opportunities for coffee farmers.
Head of Circular Innovation, Löfbergs