A well-known fermented coffee is Kopi Luwak, which is produced from coffee beans that undergo fermentation when the beans are ingested by civet cats.
Fermentation takes place as coffee cherries pass through the civet’s gut. In the gut, the protease enzymes in the civet break proteins in the coffee beans into shorter peptides and free amino acids.
The process reduces the amount of caffeine in the coffee beans.
The partially digested coffee beans are then passed out in the civet’s defecate.
For ICS, the company hopes to produce nutritional coffee with a similar taste without exploiting the civet cats.
Fermenting coffee beans with human probiotics was the solution, said Jiang Jun Da, general manager at ICS.
In this case, the probiotics used was CT99, a patented human probiotics imported from Taiwan. The main strain of CT99 came from the faeces of healthy new-born babies.
Berries from Kenya were used as the probiotics culture, during the fermentation process, CT99 reduces the caffeine amount in the coffee, allowing individuals who suffer from caffeine sensitivity to enjoy coffee.
The fermentation process also releases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – a type of neurotransmitter which is able to boost sleep, maintain a healthy level of blood pressure, and burn away body fats.
GABA can be found in range of foods, especially fermented foods such as kimchi.
As the fermentation process releases GABA and reduces the amount of caffeine, the coffee is able to increase alertness and produce tranquillising effects at the same time.
Other nutrients such as anthocyanin, vitamins, and iron are also produced during the fermentation process.
Branded as “probiocoffetics”, Jiang said that the product development ended last year. Since last month, it is available for small scale market pre-ordering.
“We have gained approval from the Chinese authority for large scale production this year and we are planning to mass produce in China,” he said.
“Probiocoffetics” will be formally launched in the market in December this year.
Health foods to supersede supplements?
Initially in the business of developing and manufacturing cosmetics, ICS expanded its portfolio to include health foods, nutricosmetics and dietary supplements, with the latter segments witnessing a high growth rate in the past few years.
For instance, the sales of health foods has grew by 130 times from late 2015 to June this year, Jiang revealed.
He believes that with the Chinese government pushing for Healthy China 2030 initiative, the Chinese population would be encouraged to pursue health with higher consumption of functional foods.
In fact, he foresees that “functional foods will replace dietary supplements” as the route for dietary health.
While its primary focus is in China, where the government had introduced the Healthy China 2030 initiative, the company hopes to bring the success of its business model in China to other parts of the world.
“Our strategy for this year and next year is to expand the concept of Healthy China to the rest of the world.”
The South East Asia region would be an area of interest, with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as the key focus, he added.