The entrepreneurial university chemist who brought antioxidant-infused coffee to the table a couple of years ago is back with a new product – a Vitamin D coffee just in time to beat the winter blues.
Sunshine Blend CoffVee is the second coffee product from Glen Miller, a University of New Hampshire organic chemist who two years ago announced the creation of the original CoffVee, a coffee infused during roasting with resveratrol, the naturally occurring antioxidant found in the skins of grapes used to make red wine.
According to Miller, Sunshine Blend CoffVee is the first and only coffee to offer the heart health benefits of red wine plus the sunshine Vitamin D.
“We are excited to offer the widely accepted health benefits of red wine plus the sunshine Vitamin D in every cup of Sunshine Blend CoffVee,” said Miller, founder and chief technical officer of the Vera Roasting Company, a Portsmouth company based at the New England Innovation Center’s (NEIC) offices on Bow Street.
“Vitamin D deficiencies are pervasive in the U.S., but so is coffee,” he added. “Coffee represents the perfect vehicle to address the problem.”
The new blend officially launches Sunday, Nov. 5, the start of Daylight Savings Time – the precursor to winter – when clocks fall back an hour, giving us a little more sunshine in the morning, but a lot less in the afternoon.
Miller said he hit on the idea of the new blend while thinking about the relationships among diet, Vitamin D, and the health-related issues associated with Vitamin D, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), among them.
The resveratrol from red grapes and its transformation into a blend of heart-healthy coffee “was kind of a specialty situation,” said Miller, who has been at UNH more than 20 years and is chairman of its Chemistry Department. “Vitamin D is a little different because our bodies make it when it when exposed to sunlight.”
He sees a potential dilemma as people, particularly women, apply sunscreen on a regular basis, even in winter, as a guard against skin cancer but also as a preventer of Vitamin D production. “If we don’t expose ourselves to the sun frequently enough, we’re not going to get it,” he said.
One way to address the deficiency is through diet with products such as milk. “We need it every day, but not as many adults drink milk every day,” Miller said. Since 82 percent of adults drink coffee, “it’s a natural place to put it,” he added.
According to Miller, Vitamin D deficiency is a serious global health problem caused by insufficient exposure to sunlight. It is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide have a Vitamin D deficiency, including 42 percent of all adults in the United States. The links between Vitamin D deficiency and bone diseases like rickets and osteoporosis are well known, said Miller, and strong links also exist between Vitamin D deficiency and a number of other health problems including depression.
Treatment for Vitamin D deficiency involves getting more Vitamin D either through increased exposure to sunlight or through diet and supplements.
It was Miller’s background as an organic chemist – thinking about compounds, what they do, and what they might potentially do in certain circumstances – that created the “aha moment” of creating the original CoffVee.
He developed the process of combining the roasted Arabica coffee beans with the resveratrol in his kitchen. The process, according to Miller, not only infuses the beans during roasting, but also provides the same amount of resveratrol in a cup of coffee as is in a glass of wine.
Infusing resveratrol into coffee in a form that promotes bioabsorption is a first for the coffee industry.
After two years of marketing and distribution, the CoffVee product is sold in all 50 states. There is some retail, but Miller said most of the sales of the whole bean, ground, and K-cups are online direct to the customer. Miller said he likes that method of sales.
“We get a lot of information about our customers, and they get a lot of information about us. It’s really a good give and take,” he said.
Miller said that each cup of Sunshine Blend CoffVee delivers the same amount of resveratrol as found in a typical glass of red wine and approximately 400 IU of Vitamin D3 to help combat SAD. With the average adult drinking 3.1 cups of coffee per day, Miller said that amounts to a Sunshine Blend delivered dose of 1,240 IU Vitamin D. According to Miller, guidelines from the Institute of Medicine place the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin D at 600 IU for people aged 1 to 70, and 800 IU for adults 70 and older.
“As with all of our master roasted CoffVees, Sunshine Blend CoffVee is made with only the finest, 100 percent Arabica beans,” Miller said. “It comes in medium, dark and decaf varieties. Each is an ultra-smooth, delicious coffee with no sharp notes or after taste. Sunshine Blend CoffVee will make your taste buds as happy as your heart, while providing the Vitamin D needed to combat the winter blues.”
Miller said the company is in the process of consolidating its production and distribution – importing the green beans, roasting, the infusion process, packaging, labeling and shipping – into a facility on Shattuck Way in Newington.
“The goal is that in a few short months we’ll be fully vertically integrated in our Newington facility,” said Miller, whose stated goal is to keep the company in New Hampshire.
Vera Roasting has received an assist over the years from the NEIC, created three years to assist the development and success of startup companies in the region. “They remain an important part of our company,” Miller said.
Recently, NEIC assisted Vera Roasting in a Wefunder campaign to raise capital for the company. Wefunder is a crowdfunding service that connects startups with investors online, and the effort on behalf of Vera Roasting raised more than the $100,000 goal when it ended in the spring.
“It was very successful,” Miller said.
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