Pectin production from coffee-pulp

Project

Pectin production from coffee-pulp

Development of biorefinery technology for extraction and purification of pectin and other biobased products from the coffee pulp residues based on innovative and environmental friendly processing technology is the objective of the project 'Pectin production from coffee-pulp'. This is a co-operation between the Wageningen University chair group Bioprocess Engineering and Pectcof B.V.

The company Pectcof B.V. was founded in August 2012. In cooperation with the Wageningen University chair group Bioprocess Engineering it aims to develop and implement an innovative process for valorisation of coffee pulp residues, which is generated during the production of coffee, through extraction, purification, formulation and sales of valuable products. The primary product is pectin for emulsifying and stabilizing applications in the food market. An overview of the developed biorefinery strategy is presented in the figure below.  

Figure 1. Starting from the (strip-) harvest of the ripe coffee cherry (above left) the bean is separated and used to produce coffee (left arrow) and the pulp (right arrow) is collected and extracted to yield food ingredients incl. pectin for use in e.g. desserts or yoghurts. Source: Pectcof BV.
Figure 1. Starting from the (strip-) harvest of the ripe coffee cherry (above left) the bean is separated and used to produce coffee (left arrow) and the pulp (right arrow) is collected and extracted to yield food ingredients incl. pectin for use in e.g. desserts or yoghurts. Source: Pectcof BV.

Coffee residue streams contain lots of pectin

Coffee is one of the most important agricultural commodities in the world. The total amount of green bean coffee produced in 2012 was 10 million tons. The mechanization of coffee production in the past 20 years has increased coffee productivity and lowered production costs. On the other hand mechanized production generates more discarded coffee residue streams in the milling stations, where the green coffee beans are separated from the pulp. This residue contains high amounts of polyphenols, polysaccharides and caffeine and is less suitable for application as organic fertilizer, livestock feed or feedstock for biogas generation and is therefore often dumped in rivers and water sources posing a major environmental problem in the coffee producing regions.

This biorefinery project focuses on the potential value of this coffee residue as a raw material for the biobased economy. The pulp contains high concentrations of valuable products including complex polysaccharides such as pectin, polyphenols and other valuable compounds, that can be used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. By refining the coffee pulp biomass, the pollution loads can be reduced and the separated materials can be transformed into valuable biobased compounds.

Modification of pectin with enzymes

Pectin is a hydrocolloid widely used in the food industry as a thickening and stabilizing agent. Coffee pectin was studied in the past, but discarded as food stabilizer, due to the lack of gelling properties. New insights in pectin structure and work previously done by Wageningen University allows the modification of pectin with the use of enzymes. The on-going research project is aimed at development of 1) an innovative, environmental friendly and cost-effective process for extraction of valuable pectin and polyphenols from coffee pulp 2) production of high value pectin and polyphenol based products with modified unique functionalities based on innovative enzyme technologies.

Centre for Biobased Economy

This project is an example of innovation–driven knowledge development via application oriented and applied projects in cooperation between Wageningen University and SMEs with an international orientation. This type of project is essential for the transition to a biobased economy.

This project was partly sponsored by the Centre for Biobased Economy (CBBE). The CBBE is a project within Wageningen UR and financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs with the goal to implement biobased economy in the education of students from Wageningen UR and 7 Dutch universities of applied sciences.