WITH VIDEO: Industrial engineers percolate business ideas

“STICKY” CAFFEINE:  Industrial engineers demonstrate how the coffee sticks dissolve when stirred in hot water. Photo:  Luke Matthews

“STICKY” CAFFEINE: Industrial engineers demonstrate how the coffee sticks dissolve when stirred in hot water.
Photo: Luke Matthews

A group of fourth year industrial engineering students have invented a new way to get your caffeine fix – coffee-on-a-stick.

This novel way to produce instant coffee was developed as a business project for their business studies course. “Co Go” premium coffee-on-the-go aims to provide the market with a convenience product.

The creative minds behind the idea, Claudia Frowein, Yehuda Goldberg, Kashvir Maharaj, Spiro Couvaras, Keenan Mayet and Vishal Shrivastava, were tasked with developing a product and building a business plan around it by their lecturer, Dr Bruno Emwanu. The project makes up 100% of the course mark, according to Couvaras.

Convenient coffee

The coffee sticks idea was a group decision, but Goldberg, the coffee addict of the group, inspired it. “He is the 51% shareholder,” joked Mayet. One stick is the equivalent of one standard serving of coffee. Different sticks are made for different consumer preferences. There is a stick with coffee and sugar and a stick with coffee and sweetener. The group hopes to develop a cappuccino option, where the stick will be coated with the ingredients found in an instant cappuccino sachet, he said. The stick does not include milk, as this would eliminate many customers and “devalue the product”. Consumers would have to add their own fresh milk, or choose the creamer option, added Goldberg.

The coffee market in South Africa is growing at ridiculous rates. More people are drinking coffee and looking for convenience.

The prototype was infused with moisture as the ingredients were steamed onto a plastic stick. If the idea gets taken up by investors, the process will require more technology and research, said Couvaras. The final product would have its contents on a wooden stick, a recyclable material, said Shrivastava, and the ingredients would dissolve immediately. “The coffee market in South Africa is growing at ridiculous rates. More people are drinking coffee and looking for convenience,” said Mayet.

Challenges of the project

The group had received positive feedback for the project because it was “a novel idea”. There were sachets made for convenience, but “you don’t get coffee on a stick.” One of the challenges had been time management, said Couvaras. The group had to give many presentations. These were helpful, he said, because businessmen and women from the industry critiqued the business idea. There had been four presentations so far, and the process is taxing, but the feedback was helpful. “Everyone has something valuable to say, and it helps quite a bit,” said Shrivastava.

INSPIRED BY COFFEE: The logo of "Co Go", for premium coffee on the go.  Photo: Provided

INSPIRED BY COFFEE: The logo of “Co Go”, for premium coffee on the go. Photo: Provided

It was also difficult to get information about the industry, in terms of sourcing products and pricing said Goldberg. “It is hard to find willing companies who will assist the business plan,” Maharaj cut in and Couvaras added: “Students struggle to get funding and people don’t give time and don’t take us seriously.” The good news is, “If anyone is interested, it’s open for anyone who will invest or buy the patent for R5 million,” said Goldberg.

Click here to see a demonstration of the coffee sticks

This story is featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

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