We chat to the owner of MannaBrew to find out more about this delicious caffeine-free drink.
“MannaBrew, like manna from heaven, was inspired from above,” declares Brandt, the owner of MannaBrew. MannaBrew is an organic, caffeine-free coffee alternative, made with the seedpods of the mesquite tree. Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) is an invasive alien thorn tree that is found in the Karoo. The tree originates from the northern parts of Mexico and the southern parts of Texas and was imported more than 150 years ago as a drought fodder tree for livestock and other farm animals. The sweet seedpods of the mesquite tree, when roasted, make an excellent coffee alternative, that can be brewed in any coffee-making device.
How MannaBrew came to life
MannaBrew delivers a decadent crema when brewed. The slow-roasting process enhances the rich, smooth, caramel, nutty flavours of the mesquite seedpods, while the essential sugars found in the seedpods provide a moderate energy boost but without the dreaded “coffee jitters” from too much caffeine. This makes it suitable for individuals managing high blood pressure, those who are conscious of their caffeine intake after a certain time of day, and for pregnant and lactating moms, as well as children.
Grant and his brother, Aam Coetzee, have been working with mesquite trees for the past 27 years, baking the seedpods to create Manna Blood Sugar Support, a natural nutraceutical that controls blood sugar levels.
The discovery of this superfood ingredient came about after the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry started their battle against invasive alien plants and trees. Brandt was doing research on the utilisation of the biomass of the mesquite alien plant when he noticed that some wildlife was drawn to the seeds from the plants. After collecting, processing and testing a special mixture of the seeds, it was later sent to the Glycemic Index Foundation of South Africa, who have since certified it as having a “GI-lowering effect” on food.
“After praying for another product to manufacture with the seedpods so that we can make a bigger impact on the environment, and to create employment opportunities, we got the idea of MannaBrew,” shares Brandt. Each 226g box of MannaBrew contains an average of 75 mesquite seed pods, which adds up to about 1,125 seeds. Research indicates that an average of 35% of these seeds germinates within the first year. This means that each box has the potential to prevent another 393 new trees from invading valuable farmland over the next year, and the number grows exponentially from there as each tree produces more seeds!
Changing the coffee drinker’s mindset
Creating a coffee alternative comes with its own challenges. As the global coffee culture grows each year, it’s a tough task to convince the avid coffee drinker to swap their favourite for a new brew.
“The positive response from self-proclaimed coffee connoisseurs was a convincing tell-tale that we have something truly unique and that we need to pursue the venture to tell the story and share the taste experience,” shares Brandt.
Protecting the ecosystem is Mannabrew’s key focus for the future. This means the growth for the business will remain low-scale and organic with the focus remaining on creating employment opportunities and keeping supply steady, and not fast-tracking production to be mainstream.
MannaBrew is available in two formats. The barista version, which is a milled powder, can be used in any coffee-making device and as a single sachet that makes one cup at a time. It can be found online at www.mannabrew.com and at certified suppliers listed on the website, such as select health shops, coffee shops and delicatessens.
Fast facts about Mannabrew
- Mannabrew is an organic product that is GMO-free. It is also vegan and lactose-, gluten- and soy-free.
- The water usage of the average size mesquite tree (2.5–3.5m high) is about 60 litres per day, which means that with each box of MannaBrew, consumers help to save an average of 8 million litres of precious underground water per year.
- Currently, about one thousand people are involved each year during the harvesting process. Every bit helps, as the unemployment rate in the Northern Cape where the mesquite seedpods are harvested, is currently at 40%.
- With every sip of MannaBrew, you not only get a healthy energy boost, but you also help to conserve the ecology of the Northern Cape while making a difference in the lives of thousands of harvesters.