Hawaiian coffee startup sees global interest

It blends the health benefits of a wellness beverage with the delicious taste of red berries. Photo: Hawaii/ AP

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2014 – It blends the health benefits of a wellness beverage with the delicious taste of red berries. In recent months, KonaRed™ has achieved media notice around the world, including being asked to participate in Kroger’s Taste of Tomorrow and being mentioned in a Forbes article about the five microtrends to watch. 

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Extracted from the red ripe coffee fruit grown in Kona, Hawaii, KonaRed is considered among the most innovative products on the market. The red berry that serves as the active ingredient in KonaRed has been found to have antioxidant power at a cellular level, which means it can penetrate and protect cells from damage due to oxidants. 

One major reason for the buzz surrounding the product is a study that found coffee fruit extract (CFE) acted as an anti-inflammatory, reducing the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines are thought to promote occurrences of fever and tissue destruction, among others. The results of the study were presented at a global conference in October. 

“Coffee fruit is an untapped and powerful source of antioxidants,” says Mathis Martines, The Kroger Company’s senior category manager. “It’s one of the most potent sources that exist.” 

The attention has increased KonaRed’s exposure in the U.S. mainland, which had previously seen the product featured in only select markets. Hawaiian consumers have been excited about the product for a while. KonaRed is offered in liquid and powder form and can be purchased individually or as part of a subscription.  

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In the wake of the media attention, KonaRed went public and now trades as KRED on the OTC Bulletin Board. KonaRed president Shaun Roberts noted the recent upsurge in the health and wellness products market, which has given the company the perfect opportunity to get the word out about the benefits of its product. 

To further emphasize KonaRed’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), the company compares its product’s ORAC scores to other products known as the most powerful antioxidants. KonaRed scored far higher than prunes, red beans, wild blueberries, and many other foods with an ORAC score of 218,400.  But the bioavailability is what brings the product its true effectiveness. Roberts said the fact that the antioxidants are more easily absorbed into the cells where they can be used is what matters most. 

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which have been linked to accelerated aging and the potential acceleration of alcohol’s effect on the liver. For smokers, free radicals are thought to contribute to the development of emphysema. While free radicals are necessary in the body, antioxidants are one of several ways to minimize the damage free radicals can cause. 

The company still faces a big challenge in educating the public on what KonaRed is. The company is striving to get around the “coffee fruit” terminology, which consumers tend to assume is a type of coffee. There is, in fact, no coffee at all in coffee fruit. It simply surrounds the coffee bean, which separates from it. 

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Prior to its use in beverages, coffee fruit was discarded. In fact, an estimated 40 million pounds of coffee fruit is wasted each year in Hawaii. Considering the fruit’s health benefits, KonaRed is excited to be able to bring it to consumers. 

While there are other coffee fruit products on the market, Roberts points out that KonaRed can be traced directly back to Kona, which is known for its delicious coffee and natural landscapes. The coffee is therefore popular with many of the water athletes located throughout Hawaii, who have discovered the product’s many health benefits.

KonaRed is available at select retailers, as well as online through sites like Amazon. The products can also be purchased through KonaRed’s website.

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Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a professional business and startup blogger that writes for a variety of sites including The Huffington Post, Forbes and Technorati.  Drew has worked at a variety of different startups as well as large advertising agencies.


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