• Sustainable foodtech startup Cupffee secured new funding totaling €1.8M through a €500K pre-seed round led by Eleven Ventures, the early-stage VC with investments in more than 150 visionary startups in SEE, and a €1.3M grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC).
• Since we last touched base, “the biodegradable cup you can eat” has formed strong partnerships with top coffee brands such as Lavazza, opening the Cupffee experience to 19 countries and high-profile events such as Wimbledon, even reaching the hand of Queen Elizabeth II according to the startup.
• The new funding aims to propel the company toward global leadership in the production and commercialization of edible cups and stirrers.
The world of food tech startups is fascinating for its ability to influence what’s on our plates and therefore enter one of our most intimate and enjoyable human experiences.
Cupffee takes on an exciting moment of the day, the savoring of a cup of coffee, and aims to elevate it, particularly for the environmentally mindful coffee drinker who wants to reduce their resource and carbon footprint. The cups are made of entirely natural ingredients, primarily cereal, which make them not only fully biodegradable, but edible, too. And coffee is just the starting point – the cup has already been used successfully for breakfasts and desserts.
In this way, Cupffee offers a smart circular economy solution as an alternative to traditional plastic and paper cups, that helps minimize waste from disposable packaging in the coffee and HoReCa industries. The company holds a patent for the production technology for the edible coffee cup.
From home-baked to 2.5M cups per month
The edible coffee cup is now produced via a fully automated and digitized system, in the company’s factory in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, an industrial center of the Balkans. Yet it was born in the founder’s home oven.
“Back in my school years, I was acutely aware of the plastic waste around me generated daily by all the coffee shops in my hometown. That sparked a pivotal question – what if I could replace these disposable coffee cups with a sustainable, edible alternative? That’s when the idea of Cupffee was born. Fast forward years of refining the recipe, baking cups in my own oven at home and assembling prototype machines from scratch before finally creating the biodegradable coffee cup that doesn’t leak, stays crunchy and can be enjoyed as a snack,” says Miroslav Zapryanov, Founder and CEO at Cupffee.
Today, Cupffee has a production capacity of 2.5 million cups per month and commits to green manufacturing practices that avoid pollution and industrial waste. Any excess material is employed into the production of stirrers.
Through their distributing partners, the company has reached global clients across the EU, Middle East, the US, and Australia. The partnership with Lavazza got them all the way to events such as Wimbledon, as well as on a first-ever plastic-free flight of Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane on Earth Day.
“Cupffee fits very well our Future of Food investment thesis, which has lately evolved towards sustainable food solutions at its core. In addition, Cupffee is one of those rare startups that has managed to go beyond the lab experiments and artisanal workshop and develop a true industrial process and production,” says Ivaylo Simov, Managing Partner at Eleven.
Tapping into the future of food and packaging
The new funding will fuel the company’s growth strategy, based on three pillars:
• Deepening its reach in current markets to ensure a wider audience has access to the sustainable coffee cup solution;
• Bolstering the sales and marketing team to promote the brand’s sustainable vision and increase customer engagement;
• Raising awareness of eco-conscious alternatives and encouraging the adoption of greener practices in the food industry.
Additionally, the EIC grant, awarded as a “Seal of Excellence” as part of the Plan for Reconstruction and Sustainability, is aimed to further finance technological innovations and business improvements.