We chatted with Vanessa Murillo co-founder of I Am Grounded, who make Coffee Fruit Bars.
Tell us about your Coffee Fruit Bars:
Coffee Fruit Bars are healthy plant-based snack bars made with upcycled coffee fruit. Our products are handmade in Brisbane at Wandering Cooks and distributed around QLD and Australia.
What flavours are available?
Currently, we have three flavours available:
- The Pick me up (Espresso, peanut butter and coffee fruit), which consists of Organic Colombian speciality coffee and a layer of Byron bay peanut butter wedged between the bar;
- The 9 am (Lemon, coconut and coffee fruit), with Lemon essential oil and coconut strips and finally,
- The 3pm (Cocoa and Nuts), and is a dark chocolate treat with crunchy almonds and cocoa butter.
What are some of the benefits of using coffee cherries?
There are three main benefits to using the coffee cherry:
- The coffee cherry is a waste product in washed coffee production and creating byproducts from the cherry helps to offload waste in farming by removing a potential environmental hazard. Roughly around the world, we produce 20 billion kilos of coffee fruit pulp waste per year, that’s about 0.2% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
- Sustainability and empowerment. When farmers are given empowerment to upcycle the fruit, two things happen, they become economically franchised to save the cherry rather than dump it and systematically help to sustain the future of their farms by restoring sustainable practices to their waste management of the cherry dumping.
- The world should be consuming this superfood. It is high in your essential micro-nutrients, helps to fight free radicals in the body and is also very high in antioxidants. In a world where people are getting sicker and food is becoming more and more processed, we need solutions to the way we grow food, especially in our case how we process fruit byproducts. Coffee fruit when upcycled correctly is healthy, delicious and good for you!
How does eating coffee fruit bars help in closing the gap of waste in coffee production?
As mentioned above, the cherries are a waste product. The fruit is farmed for its seeds, not its fruit and as a result, we are offloading billions of kilos of precious fruit into compost, landfill or if overflowing, into river systems! Local farming communities need empowerment, they need access to innovation in coffee farming to be able to upcycle the fruit and then also be economically franchised to sell it. In order for this to occur, a market demand needs to exist.
Where do you source your coffee fruit from?
We are currently securing our fruit from 3 micro-lot farms involved in a coffee fruit project in Huila, Colombia.
How did you become interested in the coffee industry?
When some families catch up they talk about all sorts of things, when my family catch up there’s only 1 topic on discussion and that’s coffee. My family migrated from Colombia to Australia when I was 5 and ever since I was little my parents were involved in coffee businesses. In particular, my father who is a food scientist had worked with coffee farmers in Colombia in quality control of green coffee beans.
In Australia, my parents established a Barista training school which I later was trained by and then became a teacher of, and finally, they began to import direct coffee from various small micro-lot farms in Colombia. Being involved in different types of coffee businesses since 13 when I was able to sling an espresso shot with care and precision. I knew that I wanted to do something in coffee but I wasn’t sure what. I was also frustrated at the lack of innovation and offering of products from a farm level, and got tired and bored of the barista fame and latte art. I wanted to feel like I was contributing to a cause that I was so dearly passionate about.
How are you supported by Wandering Cooks?
Wandering Cooks is a wonderful food community. The support and mentorship we get here as a young food business is incredible. We feel so blessed to be in a food incubator hub like Wandering Cooks with support to make our bars, sell our bars as well as access to experts, food entrepreneurs, food programs and online support. This place is a real gem in the city!
What’s your favourite way of drinking coffee?
I love them all! I don’t have a favourite way to drink coffee because I appreciate most of the techniques. I love espresso for its crema and full body taste. I love batch brew and pour over for its mouth feel and delicacy, Aeropress and French press for their softness, and cold brew for taste and refreshingness.
What are your thoughts on cascara?
Cascara is a great way to introduce yourself to coffee byproducts, but it’s definitely not the only. I would also be cautious of cascara that is not organic or pesticide-free, because coffee is heavily sprayed and drinking the skin of coffee in a tea is like brewing a concoction. Our product uses the pulp of the fruit, and any remaining outer skin is filtered out during the compression process of our extract.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Yes, we have big plans! We aim to create a lifestyle brand around coffee byproducts and will be introducing multiple products from the fruit of coffee. We have our eyes on a sparkling drink next!
Where can people buy your coffee fruit bars?
We stock in cafes and roasteries around QLD and some in Australia. We also sell our bars online on our website or through affiliate websites.
If people head to this link https://coffeefruitbar.co/pages/store-locator they can see the updated list of the cafes we are currently stocked in.