- Frozen coffee startup Cometeer has raised $35 million in a series B funding round, bringing its total raised to $100 million, according to a press release emailed to Food Dive. The company creates flash-frozen "pucks" of coffee packaged in aluminum capsules and dissolved in hot water to create the beverage.
- Institutional investors in this recent round include D1 Capital, Elephant, Tao Capital, Addition Ventures, Avenir, Greycroft and TQ Ventures. Other backers have included a former president of Nespresso, the founder of Keurig Green Mountain, and Scooter Braun, the manager of pop star Justin Bieber. Coinciding with the fundraising news, Cometeer announced it was making its product available to the public through its website after finishing its pilot program.
- Founded in 2012, Cometeer is headquartered in Gloucester, Massachusetts, at a former frozen seafood facility. The coffee market has seen a variety of innovations in recent years, but Cometeer’s use of frozen capsules and its promise of sustainability from its sourcing and packaging could help it stand out as it hopes to expand on a wider scale.
Cometeer makes clear that its coffee is not a concentrate, but rather an extract that contains the “very best flavor compounds from each bean." The coffee is brewed at 10 times the strength of a regular brew by using less water. It is then flash-frozen into pucks with liquid nitrogen. The company says this method delivers peak flavor and ensures that none of it is lost, compared to packaged beans that may lose their freshness sitting on shelves. The coffee pucks can last three days in the refrigerator and up to three years in the freezer, according to Cometeer.
The sustainable packaging element gives Cometeer another reason to stand out. Because the frozen puck gets dissolved in hot water, consumers can recycle the aluminum packaging without needing to empty out coffee grounds, unlike with a plastic coffee pod. Many coffee consumers have moved away from plastic pods used in home brewing systems due to the difficulty of recycling them.
CEO Matt Roberts told Food Dive that the company delayed its product launch by six to 12 months in order to make sure its aluminum capsules were "fully curbside recyclable." The aluminum of the capsules is made with the same alloy as beer and soda cans, he added.
Cometeer's aluminum capsules are designed to offer a more sustainable, user-friendly alternative to existing coffee pods. After years of criticism from sustainability groups, Keurig Dr Pepper announced last December that all of its Keurig K-cup pods are recyclable. However, to be properly recycled, consumers must still empty out the contents. Nestlé’s Nespresso aluminum pods can be recycled, but only at specific "collection point" locations that consumers can find on the brand's app.
While energy is needed to keep Cometeer's product frozen, Roberts said the electricity to run the company's freezer "on a per-unit level is incredibly low, and we are hoping to power our plant off the grid in the future."
Beyond its sustainability pledge, Cometeer sources its coffee beans from a rotating group of eight different roasters across the U.S., with two more being added this quarter. The company said it is committed to partnering with roasters that pay coffee farmers “above the fair trade minimum.”
“We are focused on building out a diverse group of roasting partners with unique backgrounds, sourcing techniques, and roasting styles,” Roberts said in a statement. “Alongside these partners, we look to support the de-commoditization of the coffee industry — it’s our mission.”
Cometeer plans to use the latest funding round to expand its manufacturing capabilities at its 70,000-square-foot facility, along with expanding its number of roaster partnerships.
The company is the latest food tech startup attracting investments as it seeks to develop a more sustainable coffee offering. Beyond makers of compostable or reusable coffee pods, these include Atomo Coffee, which makes a “molecular” version of coffee without beans, and food tech company Voyage Foods, which plans to launch either a ready-to-drink or liquid concentrate version of its reverse-engineered "coffee-free coffee" drink in early 2022.