The new argan oil? Coffee upcycling ingredients company Kaffe Bueno on making bio-based an economic reality

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

The new argan oil? Coffee upcycling ingredients company Kaffe Bueno on making bio-based an economic reality

Related tags upcycled beauty

Danish bioscience company Kaffe Bueno, which upcycles coffee byproducts into functional ingredients, has revealed its latest wave of innovations as it seeks to help brands become more natural and sustainable, while not compromising on results.

When Kaffe Bueno started up in 2016, its vision was to transform the way people perceived coffee; from seeing it as a ‘caffeine fix’ to being a sustainable health elixir.

The company hopes to help phase out the use of petrochemicals in everyday items such as personal care products and make a bio-based economy a reality. Its coffee is primarily sourced from industrial suppliers, who can guarantee an optimal level of traceability and batch-to-batch quality reliability.

This year has been an action-packed one for the business. It launched four new ingredients at in-cosmetics Global in late March, strengthened its international presence through a distribution network to enable every manufacturer across the globe to have access to its ingredients, and plans to open a coffee biorefinery in Denmark this autumn, where it will upcycle over 500 tonnes of coffee by-products every year.

Co-founder Alejandro Franco hopes that opening the biorefinery will help to change how the world sees coffee – from a caffeinated beverage to a sustainable resource. “Moreover, it will enable us to help the industries responsible for society’s well-being to accelerate the transition to natural, without compromising on costs, performance/efficacy, and most importantly, contributing to a regenerative environment,”​ he says.

Eco-friendly alternatives to argan and palm oil

The B Certified Corporation®, company has recently launched three new upcycled and active personal care ingredients: KAFFOIL-R™, KAFFAGE™ and KAFFAIR™.

Kaffe Bueno says that KAFFOIL-R™, which is rich in fatty acids, polyphenols and tocopherols, can be a more sustainable alternative to argan oil and palm oil. The ingredient is particularly beneficial for hair, but also has sun protection, anti-ageing, skin repair, and moisturising properties. It’s a new and improved version of its original KAFFOIL and can be incorporated into hair products such as oils, masks, and conditioners.

According to Kaffe Bueno, it has emerged as a superior ingredient when tested against argan oil. “Our studies have shown that KAFFOIL-R™ is more effective in reducing breakage and split ends, increasing hair shine, and repairing chemically damaged hair,” ​says Franco. “It contains a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids, which contribute to its hair-strengthening effects.”

Franco also highlights ethical issues related to the production of argan oil and sustainability issues too. He says that by setting up coffee biorefineries around the world, the company will be able to minimise transportation costs and emissions.

“Unlike argan oil, which requires a long and laborious extraction process from argan tree nuts, KAFFOIL-R™ is sourced sustainably through upcycling coffee waste. This helps reduce waste and pollution associated with coffee consumption,” ​he says.

Sustainable new ingredients for haircare and sun care

There are three other new ingredients too. One of these, KAFFAGE™ is an upcycled amphiphilic biopolymer with high antioxidative and anti-glycation activity, which can act as a natural SPF booster, the company says. It comes in different shades that can help formulators mimic the natural skin tone while reducing the need for iron oxides. It has natural emulsifying and antimicrobial properties, which makes it ideal to formulate colour cosmetics such as BB creams, foundations, concealers.

Another is KAFFAIR™, a patent-pending active scalp and hair ingredient derived from coffee. Kaffe Bueno says it induces the expression of human growth factor genes IGF1, VEGF, and FGF7 genes, which are associated with preventing hair loss because they strengthen cuticles and follicles. The company says in vitro data is already available for this, and that in vivo data is coming soon. It also has strong metal chelating properties, which helps it cleanse hair fibres from environmental pollutants, making it ideal for use in shampoo and hair treatments.

Over 15 ingredients in the pipeline

Over the past few years, Franco says the company’s R&D focus has been on developing its processes to break down coffee sustainably and responsibly into each of its building blocks – fibres, sugars, polymers, antioxidants, and lipids.

The company has also spent a lot of time analysing and understanding what the market is needing, wanting, and suffering from a lack of, to ensure it builds ingredients that solve problems.

Kaffe Bueno now has over 15 new ingredients in the pipeline, so it has been busy testing the toxicology and efficacy of these, too.

For now, Franco is now very excited about Kaffe Bueno’s upcoming launch in Q3 this year. “We have gotten approval for a new INCI,” ​he shares. “We can’t say much more, other than there will no longer be excuses to not use a bio-based surfactant in your formulations​.”

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