Coffee Gets Functional

Coffee Gets Functional

The more we learn about coffee, the clearer it becomes coffee is not just a naturally energising beverage; it's a naturally functional one too.

You could make a strong case for coffee as the ‘original’ energy drink. (One glance around the Frutarom Health office tells us our colleagues would certainly give it their vote.) The more we learn about coffee and the powerful antioxidants it contains, the clearer it becomes that coffee is not just a naturally energising beverage; it’s a naturally functional one, too.

It therefore didn’t surprise us when French coffee company Mongibello approached Frutarom Health with a project intended to make their coffee even more functional than it already is.

The Mongibello team wanted to develop a line of coffees that give consumers a boost from functional ingredients found in the Mediterranean diet—such as olive, lemon balm and artichoke. The challenge with such a project is functional botanical extracts are often insoluble in water—and in water-based beverages like coffee.

The innovators at Nutrafur S.A., a member of the Frutarom family, created a line of easy-to-use, fully water-soluble nutraceutical powders called NutraT that let beverage brands incorporate botanical extracts into everything from soft drinks and water to dairy—even into hot beverages like coffee.

Using the NutraT powder, Mongibello developed a range of functional coffees with Mediterranean extracts that target distinct health concerns. Launched at Vitafoods Europe this May, the range includes artichoke, olive, lemon balm and ginseng extracts.  Research shows artichoke’s choleretic and diuretic properties can help regulate serum cholesterol levels and studies credit compounds in olive with helping to regulate blood pressure and support blood circulation. Lemon balm extract is high in phenols and ginseng can offer a mental boost.

As anticipated, all four coffees were at hit at Vitafoods—proof that the functional additions didn’t compromise the balanced aroma and taste that connoisseurs expect from their coffee. Thanks to their high solubility, the finished drinks were clear and free of turbidity and settling, too. And because NutraT extracts are formulated without preservatives or synthetic colors, they tick all the clean-label boxes on cautious consumers’ checklists.

In today’s coffee market, consumers are looking for products formulated without preservatives or synthetic colours, as well as the balanced aroma and taste connoisseurs expect from their coffee. The onsite coffee and tea sectors are booming, with sales at coffeehouses alone hitting €18.9 billion in 2016, according to Mintel. A coffee that both tastes great and provides health benefits, well… if not the ‘icing on the cake’, perhaps the ‘foam on the latte.’

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