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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Created on Jun 18th, 2023
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COFFEE RESURRECT 2023: Upcycling Coffee Waste

DeliveryRank chats with Almaw Molla, a visionary leader and the driving force behind COFFEE RESURRECT, Africa's pioneering Industrial Biotechnology company. As the President, Founder, and CEO, Almaw has spearheaded the development of an innovative solution that transforms coffee waste into sustainable personal care products, nutraceuticals, and food ingredients. With a deep commitment to environmental sustainability and a passion for harnessing the untapped potential of coffee, Almaw has revolutionized the industry, establishing COFFEE RESURRECT as a trailblazer in Africa and beyond.

What inspired you to start COFFEE RESURRECT, and how did you come up with the idea of upcycling coffee waste?

"Having had coffee in cafes and restaurants for years, we became sick and tired of seeing more and more coffee grounds being needlessly sent to landfills." We set out with the simple ambition of finding a use for coffee beyond the usual morning pick-me-up and bringing new life to what was previously viewed as waste. and I kept understanding and researching its potential niche market and creating an innovative idea that would turn into an actual business. And that’s how COFFEE RESURRECT™ was initiated …"

Seblegenet Aklilu, Co-Founder and CTO

"As an expert working 8 years of my time in the coffee industry, seeing those grounds thrown away in landfills was a waste of the environment and valuable money, but one day, having a chat with the impact entrepreneur Almaw… we just put it in to COFFEE RESURRECT the next phenomenal firm in coffee industry history "

There have been four "waves of coffee"—this is what the industry calls major developments in the coffee industry. Each wave starts with a strong, disruptive change that permanently affects the coffee industry. The first wave of coffee is defined by its increased availability and transformation into an object of global trade. The second wave introduced the concept of coffees from different countries to coffee consumers. The third wave shifted the focus to the story behind the cup. The fourth wave is about adding more value to the coffee supply chain and sustainability concepts. The idealized circular economy model in the coffee sector does seem to apply here, so our inspiration and vision are to start the 5th wave coffee movement—the recycling of coffee waste.

What challenges have you faced while establishing the first industrial biotechnology in Africa for creating sustainable products from coffee waste?

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s youngest population, one that is increasingly well-educated and teeming with innovative talent and entrepreneurial drive long before African governments and their development partners realized it. As African startups, we saw opportunities and sprang into action.

Africa faces several constraints in harnessing the benefits of biotechnology. As a pioneering company in our industry, the challenges for us are greater than in any other ecosystem; these include a lack of adequate funds, a loss of trained technical expertise, the slow development of the biotechnology sector, inadequate intellectual property rights infrastructure, and the government not taking a more active role in promoting the technology.

As entrepreneurs trying to get a new business off the ground, what can we do to mitigate the financial risk and improve our odds- We can develop a capital strategy to reduce financial risk, seek diverse funding channels and opportunities, choose the right investor, be ambitious and move fast through the commercialization phase, manage our currency risk, acquire a co-working role, or outsource our financial management service as early as possible.

How does COFFEE RESURRECT contribute to the local economy in Ethiopia, and what are your plans for expansion beyond the country?

Ethiopia currently sits as the world’s 5th-largest coffee producer. The industry employs approximately 15 million people and accounts for 28 percent of the country’s total annual exports.

Coffee consumption is increasing—and not just in the US—with no signs of slowing down. The international market is very susceptible to volatility caused by demand and production fluctuations, and increasing effects from weather phenomena will further exacerbate price turmoil. African countries like Ethiopia and Uganda are significant coffee producers, but they have faced constraints to increasing production like a lack of capital and extension service support. However, domestic demand, farmer support programs, and farmer training are increasing. If those countries can boost their market profiles and shore up their finances by targeting niche consumers in wealthier countries, they could be better prepared to profit at times when other producers have occasional lapses in production.

From Kaffa, the place that lent its name to the bean, to a quarter of the country’s population engaged in production, processing, distribution, and exporting the commodity, coffee is undoubtedly a big deal in Ethiopia.

COFFEE RESURRECT is a brand voice representing the Ethiopian coffee story and its coffee producers, creating an additional income source for small scale African coffee farmers and helping them get a better price for their green coffee beans in the international coffee market.

But our company has a bold growth plan to create a real difference for Africa and beyond by sustainably innovating through coffee waste. Thanks to our well-researched and outstanding business model, we have an invitation to expand to other African countries in Europe, the US, and the UAE.

Using our influence attitude – First of all, impact. We have demonstrated and proven that we are influencers and major players in the industry. Since 2020, we have done that through our COFFEE RESURRECT social movement campaign and by involving ourselves in international podiums in Europe, the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

EUTECH SDG Awards 2022 Candidate for SDG 13 Climate Action (Competition in Progress)


Food of the future: creators and technologies by Deep Food Tech Conference 2023


Sustainable Beauty Awards 2022 winner.


FoodTech Challenge 2022 top 30 Finalist.


Sustainable Food Awards 2023 top 5 finalist


Sustainable Beauty Awards 2022 top 6 Finalist.


Global Startup Awards 2023 Regional winner for Best Green Tech


Global Startup Awards 2021 country winners in Best Newcomer, Founder of the

Year, Startup of the Year, Heath Tech and ESG tech categories and the only

regional winner from Ethiopia. 



Entrepreneurship World Cup 2021 EWC Top 100.


Member Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Starters Club Company.


E4impact Foundation Impact Entrepreneur Champion of the year 2021 from

Universita Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, Italy.


Total Energies 2021 Top 15 on 3rd edition Startupper of the year Challenge.


Startup School Certification in 2021.


How has the response been to COFFEE RESURRECT's products, and how do you plan to market them to a wider audience?

Our company and its founder received numerous accolades, including the Entrepreneurship World Cup top 100 list in 2021 and being recognized as a Top 30 finalist in the UEA FoodTech Challenge, a Global Startup Awards regional winner in the Founder of the Year 2021, a Global Startup Awards Best GreenTech 2023, a candidate for the EUTECH SDG Awards, a Top 5 at the Sustainable Food Awards 2023, and a winner of the Sustainable Beauty Awards 2022, for its products and services.

Almaw and his team are ambitious leaders and experts with a dream of creating a company that has an enormous impact, often in a way that changes culture or how an entire industry operates.

Currently, COFFEE RESURRECT ’s technology, podium, and mission help empower impact entrepreneurs across Africa and beyond to rely on a circular business model and to be passionate about creating local solutions to solve global problems, whilst never compromising their commitment to create a positive social and environmental impact that helps strengthen their communities and on the way striving to radically change mindsets, and show that materials can still possess huge value, even after being used for their primary purpose.

In your opinion, what are the most pressing environmental and social issues facing the coffee industry today, and how does COFFEE RESURRECT aim to address them?

Global warming has posed a challenge for coffee growing in Ethiopia. As Geo.fr reports, 60% of production areas could become unsuitable for growing coffee trees by the end of the century: "To cope with the effects of global warming, we would have to increase the 32 meters each year, according to the researchers".

Like the rest of the world, African coffee producers face obstacles to future production. Climate change presents a hurdle to farmers, especially smallholders, who may not have access to capital to help them adapt to changing conditions. Droughts are becoming more common, and many producers do not have the necessary irrigation equipment to combat the dry conditions. African coffee yields tend to be low, as growers may not have access to new coffee plant varieties or costly inputs such as fertilizers and agrochemicals. Many producers also suffer from a lack of support services like training and advice from extension programs, which could greatly increase productivity.

As it’s known, coffee is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade and also a central and popular part of our culture. It is grown in about 80 countries and is one of the world’s most popular beverages and the second-largest traded commodity after petroleum. While drinking coffee is something widely celebrated, discussions about the massive amounts of waste coffee production leaves behind are not heard very often. However, the huge amount of residue generated annually in the production and consumption of coffee requires innovation and a waste management plan. Countries’ coffee waste figures are actually comparable to the amount of coffee the country exports and imports.

Coffee beans contain several classes of health-related chemicals, including phenolic compounds, melanoidins, diterpenes, xanthines, and carotenoids. The waste water coming out of the coffee industry has a high concentration of organic pollutants and is very harmful for surrounding water bodies, human health, and aquatic life if discharged directly into the surface waters.

The processing of coffee generates significant amounts of agricultural waste, ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent of the weight of the total coffee produced. Coffee’s agricultural waste takes up large amounts of land and sits there decaying for months, polluting the area before it’s finally burned by the farmers, adding another environmental damage to its name. On the other side, coffee’s industry resides as a by-product from the roasting process, and while coffee is prepared, it is a major urban waste.

There are over 90 billion kilograms of coffee waste worldwide. 99% of it ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more harmful to the environment than CO2 and a potential threat to many severe health problems like skin irritation, stomach pain, nausea, and breathing problems among the residents of nearby areas.

As other food wastes Every year, billions of pounds of coffee’s byproducts are usually incinerated or sent to landfills; Instead of sending them to landfills, At COFFEE RESURRECT, we believe, we should be collecting this ideal raw material from our industry partners, small-scale coffee farmers, and turning it into highly valuable, all natural, active, and multi-functional personal care and food ingredients.

Besides, we protect the health and well-being of residents in nearby areas where these coffee wastes are sent to landfills - sustainably innovating through coffee waste all through a way of being corporate socially responsible to ourselves and to others as well.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to create sustainable solutions for global problems, particularly in Africa?

To rely on a circular business model and to be passionate about creating local solutions to solve global problems, whilst never compromising their commitment to creating a positive social and environmental impact that helps strengthen their communities.

I believe curiosity, structured experimentation, adaptability, team building, persistence, and innovation are the major characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

If you would like to find out more about COFFEE RESURRECT, visit https://www.coffeeresurrect.com/

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