As college freshmen with a painfully early 8 a.m. accounting class, Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari had a perpetual problem: They could never get up early enough to get coffee before class.
“After going through another bleary-eyed lecture, we asked ourselves, ‘Why can’t we eat our coffee?” Fayad and Kothari say. Months later, the CoffeeBar was born.
Made with a shot of espresso, the small bar has as much caffeine as an average cup of coffee. Besides the fact that it takes no time to brew, it has another advantage–eliminating the need for disposable coffee cups.
Since the average American office worker throws out about 500 coffee cups a year, edible coffee could conceivably offset a decent amount of trash. The wrappers are recyclable.
While someone desperate for caffeine could also just take a pill, Fayad and Kothari wanted to make something that was a little bit healthier.
“We needed a quicker way to get things going,” says Fayad. But the thing with caffeine pills and energy drinks and things like that, we didn’t really want to sacrifice nutrition.”
The ingredients include cashews, almond butter, and gluten-free oats, with no additives or preservatives. The coffee inside is real and sourced directly from fair trade coffee farmers through a nonprofit called Project Alianza.
The co-founders happened to have a kitchen in the basement of their dorm at Northeastern University, and spent countless nights trying to get the recipe right.
“We put together a test batch and then took it over to a study room to test out on our friends who were studying late at night,” Fayad says. “It took about 14 batches of getting feedback . . . then we spent the past eight months really refining the recipe to scale up.”
A food scientist helped with the final details, and now the student team is getting ready to manufacture its first large order. The startup is currently raising money on Kickstarter.
At $3, the CoffeeBar isn’t cheap. But then again, it’s not that much more than an actual cup of coffee at some cafes. It will be interesting to see how many people are convinced to switch their morning routines.