ColombiaOne.comBusinessColombian Couple Finds Success in Miami Producing Sustainable Coffee Cups from Coffee

Colombian Couple Finds Success in Miami Producing Sustainable Coffee Cups from Coffee

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Couple from Colombia has coffee business in Miami
Hailing from Colombia, Ricardo and Daniela have successfully launched a sustainable coffee cup business in Miami – Credit: Courtesy Coffee Kreis

Ricardo Garcia and Daniela Insignares, two Colombian entrepreneurs living in Miami, have started a company that manufactures sustainable coffee cups from used coffee grounds. Coffee Kreis now design and distribute their ‘Kreis Cup’ to cafes, restaurants, hotels, and universities across Florida and the U.S.

Coffe-made cups, an innovative concept

Hailing from Barranquilla, on the Colombian Caribbean coast, Ricardo and Daniela are both in their 30s, with educational backgrounds in business and industrial engineering respectively. A few years ago, they decided to relocate to Miami, in the U.S., where they began their entrepreneurial journey.

During the 2021 lockdown, confined mostly to their home in Miami, they noticed the large amount of coffee grounds they were discarding. This inspired them to repurpose the waste into a new material for making coffee cups.

Like most Colombians, Ricardo and Daniela love coffee and have a passion for entrepreneurship. After they came up with the idea to upcycle coffee grounds, they reached out to coffee shops to collaborate on the product. They developed a prototype and created a material combining waste coffee grounds and biomass. This material is dishwasher safe, durable, and fully compostable.

In 2022, they initiated a crowdfunding campaign on the US platform Kickstarter to fund their project. They raised enough money to produce 1,500 cups and received the Intelligent Design Award from the China Academy of Art, providing additional financial support. This funding enabled them to manufacture and market their coffee cups.

Coffee Kreis business operates between Miami and Colombia

In 2023, Ricardo and Daniela launched their startup, Coffee Kreis, choosing a foreign name related to recycling. “Kreis” means circle in German, symbolizing the regeneration of coffee grounds into reusable products.

Processing coffee in Colombia proved challenging

Starting Coffee Kreis and finding initial clients was challenging. The founders promoted their products through their website, social media, networking with coffee shop owners, attending events, and directly visiting coffee shops. Convincing people to purchase their coffee cups required persistence.

Ricardo and Daniela now collaborate with coffee shops and hotels in Barranquilla to collect used coffee grounds. These grounds are processed and shipped to Bogota, where they partner with an outsourced plant that manufactures the cups from biomass. It took the startup eight months to find a manufacturer willing to work with non-traditional materials.

Miami, Colombia, and beyond

The couple live in Miami, so the US is their primary distribution area. They currently collaborate with hotels and shops in Miami, Florida, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Cyprus, and plan to expand to Germany, the Nordic countries, and Australia—regions known for their interest in sustainable products that have less environmental impact.

The entrepreneurs also aim to broaden their reach to the Latin American market, increase sales in Colombia, and create more job opportunities there. Coffee Kreis strives to secure more contracts with coffee shops for waste coffee grounds collection. Currently, Ricardo and Daniela sell their coffee cups in Colombia only through their website.

There is potential for the Miami-based business to return to Colombia to advance the culture of coffee upcycling, which transforms waste materials into products of higher value. One of their ideas is to produce coffee cups and other household items for the automotive industry, without the coffee smell present in their current products, to replace items typically made of plastic.

Upcycling culture in Colombia

The recycling culture in Colombia is still developing. While some shopping centers in large cities have bins for recycling electronic devices, batteries, clothes, oil, and toxic insect repellents, broader engagement is needed. People can earn money by collecting and selling empty plastic bottles and cardboard to recycling centers, but further efforts are necessary to expand these practices.

Ricardo believes that progress depends on government involvement and more companies providing incentives for recycling and upcycling. “It is still very early days in both Colombia and the USA for everything related to recycling and sustainability, so there is a lot more work to be done to raise awareness,” he comments.

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