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  4. Using Coffee Beans That Should Be Thrown Away to Make Richly Flavorful Craft Beer


Using Coffee Beans That Should Be Thrown Away to Make Richly Flavorful Craft BeerKuramae BLACK Making Use of Waste Coffee Beans

The fashion brand, ECOALF, and the Asahi Group have pooled their wisdom to launch UPCYCLE B, a project that propose an earth-friendly lifestyle. The first product to appear from this project is Kuramae BLACK, a coffee craft beer that has transformed the waste coffee beans discarded from cafes and roasters into a coffee craft beer.

Communicating a Sustainable Lifestyle from the Familiar Fields of Clothing and Food

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to attain a sustainable world. While the SDGs are best known as initiatives of governments and companies, in fact, they are also a theme that are closely related to our daily lives.
With that in mind, a project was started as a call for the casual implementation of the SDGs in our daily lives. With UPCYCLE B, ECOALF, a sustainable fashion brand originating in Spain, and the Asahi Group have joined forces to propose a sustainable lifestyle from the familiar fields of food and clothing.
The first product to arise from this project is Kuramae BLACK, which transforms waste coffee beans discarded from cafes and roasters in Tokyo's Kuramae district into coffee craft. A drink overflowing with originality has been created based on the concepts of turning waste into value and a marriage between coffee and beer.

Making Effective Use of Coffee Beans Discarded by Local Shops to Create a Craft Beer

The product originated when the project members learned of the existence of waste coffee beans. Cafes and roasters in the Kuramae district near the Asahi Group headquarters were concerned about what to do with coffee beans that are thrown away without the coffee being enjoyed because of test roasting and the like.
The project members started to explore the possibility of creating a new product that would reduce the amount of discarded coffee beans and effectively recycle them in some way. What emerged was the idea that, even though those coffee beans were being thrown away, they were originally high quality beans, there may be a way of upcycling them into a craft beer that would allow those beans to be enjoyed.
It was decided to enlist the help of people in the local community to make this idea a reality. People with disabilities working at local welfare offices go to local shops to collect the discarded coffee beans. They would be delivered to the Asahi Group brewery to be blended into beer. The roasters and welfare offices had already been collaborating on a project to reuse coffee grounds as organic fertilizer.
The result, Kuramae BLACK, has a delicate flavor containing the inherent fruity aromas of coffee beans, a hint of acidity, and a pleasant, chocolate-like bitterness. When asked about the product, its developer's expression was full of pride. ‘In the prototyping stage, it was one struggle after another, as we had difficulty finding the right balance between the coffee and beer flavors. After thorough deliberations about the type of bean, extraction method, and blend ratios with the cooperation of coffee baristas, we finally arrived at a flavor that we know was “the one.”

Creating Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities and Revitalizing the Local Economy through Upcycling

Kuramae BLACK is served at Asahi Group stores, such as the beer halls attached to brewing facilities, and at sustainability-related events. Alongside the beer, the eco-cup, UPCYCLE B Tumbler in the Forest, designed with that message, has also made its debut. This tumbler, which was co-developed by Asahi Breweries and Panasonic Corporation, is an upcycled tumbler containing 55% roasted malt powder (process waste) generated in the malt manufacturing process at Asahi Beer Malt, Ltd.
Heartened by the response to Kuramae BLACK, the project team is planning its follow-up UPCYCLE B product, Kuramae WHITE, by upcycling bread crusts bound for disposal, as well as other sustainable products in the future.
Unneeded materials that would otherwise be thrown away can be transformed into a kind of treasure that has completely new value with ingenuity and innovation. Kuramae BLACK, which was born by pooling the wisdom of a fashion brand and a beer manufacturer, is a product that embodies such thinking. At the same time, in the process of manufacturing the product, it was possible to implement “local SDGs” to foster a sustainable local community, such as creating job opportunities for people with disabilities and revitalizing the local economy.
In the words of the project leader, “If you can emphasize with the story behind the product, you will choose “raising a toast to someone” with that thought. That is all you need to start a sustainable lifestyle.” A future filled with everybody's smiles surely lies ahead of the modest choices that each of us makes in our daily lives.

Examples of other Asahi Group initiatives

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