Every year, 40 million pounds of coffee cherry skin (the part that surrounds the bean at the center) are discarded in Hawaii alone. While most people saw waste in the fleshy pulp, serial entrepreneur Shaun Roberts saw something else: a golden opportunity.
In 2008, Roberts founded KonaRed, a Kalaheo, Hawaii-based company that manufactures a line of energy drinks of the same name, using the fruit of the coffee plant. The result is a product packed with nutrients and antioxidants. KonaRed first hit stores in Hawaii at the beginning of 2010, following a year of lab testing, and has since reached the US mainland.
For coffee farm operators such as Tom Greenwell, KonaRed has proven to be a tremendous help, giving them an additional source of income now that they’re getting paid for the coffee cherry skin. “It used to be just a cost. This is one of those byproduct deals that is a big benefit to farms,” says Greenwell.