FOOD VISION USA 2016... THE TRAILBLAZERS: Afineur taps into fermented trend with ultra-smooth cultured coffee

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

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Afineur – one of three winners in this year's trailblazers challenge at Food Vision USA – reckons microbes can transform the flavor and nutrition of a host of agricultural products, starting with coffee.  

Afineur’s first product – a gourmet ‘cultured’ coffee in which bitter notes have been eliminated by microbes during a controlled fermentation process – was developed after co-founders Camille Delebecque and Sophie Deterre screened thousands of naturally-occurring microbes and identified five that in combination, ‘eat’ away unwanted bitter notes in green arabica coffee beans during a two-day fermentation process.

After roasting - a process that kills off all the microbes - the coffee beans are less astringent, less bitter, and more aromatic, such that consumers who can’t stomach coffee at all due to its bitter notes could enjoy it, while coffee drinkers who currently add milk or sugar to make their morning cup of Joe more palatable could ditch both, Delebecque told FoodNavigator-USA editor Elaine Watson at Food Vision USA​ in Chicago last month.

While there may well be mass market potential for smoother coffee, Afineur's initial target audience is foodies, wine drinkers, tea lovers and coffee enthusiasts looking for premium new products, plus aficionados looking for something more ethical – and affordable – than the famed kopi luwak , a super-premium coffee made from coffee cherries that have passed through the digestive tract of Asian civet cats, during which time the beans (the seeds inside coffee fruits) are fermented by bacteria in the animal’s gut, says Delebecque.

“It’s really the start of a journey; coffee is just the beginning. We are setting up a foundation platform to improve all kinds of food products, so we're looking at flavor, nutrition, protein content, and​ [eliminating] allergens."


Trailblazers​ is a new initiative at Food Vision USA​ designed to celebrate early stage food & beverage companies that are bringing something genuinely new to the table from a formulation, sourcing, branding, marketing or business model perspective.

The three winners in 2016 - Afineur, Hippeas and Shaka Tea - were selected by the editorial team and got to present their innovations to our expert panel on stage at the conference (Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea and executive chairman of Beyond Meat; John Haugen, general manager of General Mills’ venture fund, 301 INC; Jason Starr, head of funds at online investment platform, CircleUp; Jon Sebastiani, founder and CEO of the venture fund and consumer brands incubator, Sonoma Brands (and founder of KRAVE Jerky).


The eight runners up – who also wowed us with their innovative products – are: Pure Growth Organic ​, Brami​ , American Ostrich Farms​ ​, Willow Cup​ , Levels​ , Once Upon a Farm​ , Kenya Purple Tea​ , and Oh Yes Foods!

We'll be launching the initiative again in 2017, so keep your eye on the Food Vision USA website​ for updates...

Afineur could have called its product fermented coffee, but co-founder Dr Camille Delebecque says the word ‘cultured’ has broader connotations, referring both to a microbiological fermentation process, and to societal trends.

The music is courtesy of Accelerated Ideas.​   

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