The Zero Waste Coffee Project

ALLDAE Cascara, a fast growing startup

In June 2021 ALLDAE Cascara was launched by business partners Ryan McDonnell and Lee Zheng. We were inspired by the opportunity to upcycle a coffee by-product  and create value for both consumers and producers. Annually, roughly 46 billion pounds of coffee pulp and husk  are only partially or imperfectly used and upscaled, e.g. as fertilizer, mulch, fuel etc. ALLDAE believes that the pulp and husk can be repurposed in ways that result in even higher values.

Our Cascara

For that reason we have partnered with Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah in Panama whose coffees have taken top three in national and world barista championships over forty times. It was important for us to pick a cascara that was unique and dynamic to enter the market with. Most consumers have never heard of cascara, and cascara processing is still in its infancy in terms of understanding what consumers respond to and enjoy. We’re also hoping to contribute what we’ve learned to help producers find a reliable second source of income through their otherwise maybe wasted coffee cherries. Brewed cascara has a naturally fruity flavor of tart cherry in addition to other flavors depending on the cultivar and how it´s processed. The Gesha cultivar, largely considered the best tasting coffee cultivar, in particular imparts a unique florality to our cascara.

Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah, Panama
Health benefits

Cascara also shows promising health benefits, centering around mindful energy. Cascara has a lower caffeine content (ALLDAE’s product has 27 mg of caffeine) than traditional coffee or energy drinks on the market with options ranging from 160 mg to 300 mg, and some studies have shown a significant increase in BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF improves brain function, focus, and is showing promising results to helping prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. While studies are early, anecdotally ALLDAE has seen this mindful energy work in action from consumer feedback. The lower caffeine and BDNF boost have synergistic effects that promote a more focused energy than sheer caffeine can create. This mental boost lasts for 3-5 hours. While the product is great for any time of day, ALLDAE is especially marketing it for an afternoon drink where a lot of people typically avoid caffeinated drinks, saying it can get you through the midafternoon slump without keeping you up at night.

Ryan McDonnell and Lee Zheng, co-founders of ALLDAE Cascara

Giving back

In addition to looking to contribute their learnings about cascara processing to producers and creating a captive audience for cascara in the American market, ALLDAE is also partnering with Grounds for Health. Grounds for Health is  an organization dedicated to treating cervical cancer in coffee growing regions. Women make up about 70% of the labor force in coffee production, yet cervical cancer ranks with the highest mortality rate of cancers in these areas. We at ALLDAE are looking at more opportunities to give back to producers and are excited to engage with producers to better understand their needs and help guarantee a regular volume of purchased cascara.

The education hurdle

Zheng and I feel that the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is consumer education. To solve this,  we´re targeting boutique stores and specialty cafes who attract a more curious clientele that is looking for new products. The alignment with specialty cafes is especially critical, since these shops are well acquainted with educating consumers on coffee.

ALLDAE Cascara, based in Boston, is available at 80+ independent grocery stores in the New York and Los Angeles areas as well as a variety of specialty coffee shops nationwide, such as George Howell Coffee, Little Wolf Coffee, Bolt Coffee, and Dayglow Coffee. You can also find their product at www.alldaeCascara.com to order online.