Food & Beverage Product Innovation

Bon Appétech has partnered with 33entrepreneurs to launch the Premiere Global Food Startups Pitch Competition in San Francisco October 2-4, 2015. Coinciding with the Bon Appétech conference, the Pitch Competition will showcase the most talented and promising teams and startups in food innovation. The conference will bring together leading minds in the food space for a global event on Good Food Innovation, with interactive programming, hands-on demos and a Startup Expo with 100+ food startups.

Leading up to the Bon Appétech conference, 33entrepreneurs – the Global Wine & Spirits, Food, and Travel Startup Accelerator — is organizing a 9 city U.S. Startup Tour, taking place July 8-30. Crossing the country from New York City to San Francisco and traveling over 8,000km to some of the top innovation hubs in the USA, 33entrepreneurs will seek the most disruptive startups in the food and wine innovation space. At each stop on the U.S. Startup Tour, 33entrepreneurs will select top startups to participate in the final Pitch Competition at Bon Appétech conference.


$100K Prize for the Winner of the Food Startup Pitch Competition at Bon Appétech

33entrepreneurs is the leading food, wine, and travel startup accelerator and seed-stage VC fund in France.

Since its inception, 33entrepreneurs has run more than 25 startup contests across Europe, with more than 500 startups that have pitched their concepts onstage in front of 2,000 people including entrepreneurs, influencers, investors and media. This summer, 33entrepreneurs launches its North America campaign to promote disruptive innovation in the Wine & Spirits, Food and Travel industries.

33entrepreneurs will travel across North America, like a rock band on a startup tour, with a full team of innovative explorers and experts, travelling 8,000 km coast to coast to meet with thousands of entrepreneurs at some of the leading innovation hubs across the country.

Program of the Tour:

New York – July 8
Boston – July 10
Montreal – July 13
Toronto – July 15
Chicago – July 18
Austin – July 21
Boulder – July 23
Los Angeles – July 27
San Francisco – July 30

At each stop, startups will have the opportunity to pitch before a panel of high-quality, local VCs, entrepreneurs and institutional representatives. Each startup will have 5 minutes to pitch its project and then be critiqued by panel members. For each contest, one winner per vertical will be selected and be given the opportunity to take part in the Grand Finale at Bon Appétech Conference.

At the October event, the finalists from the 33entrepreneurs Startup Tour will compete in the grand finale against other startups from around the world, for a chance to win a $100K prize and take part in 33entrepreneurs’ next promotion of accelerated startups.


Bon Appétech and 33entrepreneurs share a mutual passion to nurture entrepreneurs

This pioneering partnership is the early fruit of their common vision and investment to build a better global future by empowering good food innovation.

Bon Appétech is bringing together 750+ attendees, 100+ industry thought leaders and speakers, and 100+ startup exhibitors and global brands in FoodTech, AgTech, and Food & Beverage to showcase their companies and launch new products at the Bon Appetech conference. In order to attract the best startups from around the world, Bon Appétech has created the Food Startup Expo to collaborate with leading food accelerators, incubators, and organizations to nourish and support food entrepreneurs.



Is it time for insects to move up the food chain?

Fried in cornmeal. Smothered in ketchup and mustard. Dripping with maple syrup. On top of an ice cream sundae. I can still remember the myriad ways that Billy Forrester tried to disguise the fact that he was forced to eat 15 night crawlers in as many days after losing a bet in the classic children’s book How to Eat Fried Worms.

As hilarious as Billy’s predicament was to my fourth-grade self, I have to admit the thought of eating worms has never been that appealing to me, now or then. In fact, for many people the idea of entomophagy, or eating insects, is, well, to use a fourth grader’s favorite word, gross!

But in much of the world, that is simply not the case. Throughout Asia, Central America and Mexico and Africa, insects are just another part of the food chain—much like burgers, fries or pizza are part of the American diet. And with many experts worried that the planet may not be able to support projected world population growth—which the U.N. is projecting will reach 9.6 billion by 2050—there are an increasing number of entomophagy advocates and companies that believe the solution for feeding the planet is to turn back to sources that can already be readily found in nature.

Food sources based on what’s already found in nature vary. An article in Natural News, for instance, suggests looking to drought-resistant plants and trees that grow quickly or produce large yields. For instance, jicama—a root grown primarily in Mexico and Central America—is said to provide high amounts of vitamin C. The article also points to the moringa tree, also known as the horseradish or drumstick tree, as a potential food source. The tree, which grows in tropical areas, is said to propagate easily, has edible leaves that are high in protein and vitamins and its seeds can supposedly be used to purify water.

A similar article in Scientific American suggests a return to a staple of the Native American diet—the acorn. According to the article, oak trees—from which acorns come—are actually the single most important tree used by wildlife for food and cover throughout the state of California. Acorns have been a dietary staple for farm animals—and of course, squirrels—and people for centuries. The article says acorns can be eaten in a variety of ways—raw, cooked, boiled, mushed or even—not unlike chicory—for coffee.

So-called “wild” foods—or foods found in forested areas have also been suggested as new, natural food sources. A 2011 report by the U.N’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), suggested that world’s forests could also serve as a source for helping to ensure food security for the world’s populations. Judging by the recent popularity of “foraging” activities, such as mushroom gathering, can searching for more fruits of the forest be far behind?

But by far the most often-cited natural resource for alternative food sources is insects. Again, the U.N. is leading the way in advocating for insects as a food. Since 2003, the FAO has been doing research on edible insects in numerous countries across the world. Thus far they have found as many as 1,900 types of insects that are safe for human consumption. According to the FAO there are various benefits of insect eating:

Edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans. Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g. crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Insects can be grown on organic waste. Therefore, insects are a potential source for conventional production (mini-livestock) of protein, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly in recomposed foods (with extracted protein from insects); and as a protein source into feedstock mixtures.

Getting beyond the “ick” factor

Of course getting Westerners to move beyond being grossed out by the thought of eating bugs will take some doing. However, there are a number of companies and VC firms that are betting the ant farm, so to speak, that they will. According to the Wall Street Journal, VC firms put $83.4 million into food start-ups that are developing alternative food products—from meat substitutes to insect-based foods—during the third quarter of 2014.

Although there are many insects that can be eaten—grasshoppers, ants, worms, cicadas, caterpillars and beetles to name a few—judging from the number of start-ups that are using them, crickets seem to be the gateway bug of choice for burgeoning entomophagists.

Although I’ve heard of roasted cricket snacks, the most popular medium for conveying crickets into food stuffs these days seems to be cricket flour. Crickets are said to be very high in protein, calcium and iron and low in carbs. By finely grinding the crickets into a “flour,” they can be easily ingested and used in a variety of products—from protein bars (Exo, Hopper Foods,) to cookies (Bitty), chips (Six Foods) and even cocktail bitters (Critter Bitters).

Breeding insects for food products is also a key part of this value chain. In addition to milling cricket flour, Aspire Food Group offers organic whole crickets for cooking, and the company has insect breeding projects underway in Austin, Texas Mexico (grasshoppers) and in Ghana (weevil larvae). Taking the childhood ant farm model a number of steps further, Silicon Valley based Tiny Farms offers mealworm farming starter kits for companies that want to develop their own products or people who want to start their own insect farms. The company is even using data collected from individual insect farms to develop best practices for better growth.

If Rene Redzepi, famous forager and chef of Denmark’s acclaimed Noma, can make insects palatable to foodies by serving fermented grasshoppers or ant-infused gin, can more middle brow palates be far behind? Palates change. Ten years ago, not many people were eating kale, either. Everyone thought its sole purpose was to adorn salad bars. Even Rosé is making a comeback after being maligned as the wine of choice for 1980s housewives. And who knew that canning would someday become a hipster DIY activity?

So maybe we should try bugs. We might like them.

If you’re a technology based food product start-up, we’d love to hear from you. Bon Appétech Conference will be a great way to connect with industry stakeholders, large brands and influential decision makers. We are hosting a startup expo where entrepreneurs can showcase and launch new products, including new food products. More information available at

Post image copyright 2006 by Lon&Queta. See full license for use.

New roasting, farming and brewing methods ensure today's coffee is not your father's cuppa joe...

Not many people are aware that the Boston Tea Party was partly responsible for the U.S. becoming the coffee consuming country it is today. After American colonists threw crates of British tea in the harbor on December 16, 1773 to protest the Tea Act, it was considered unpatriotic to drink tea and coffee became the preferred beverage in the New World.

In 2014, 61 percent of Americans drank coffee daily. And 34 percent of those selected gourmet varieties to get their daily caffeine buzz. With the rise of the craft coffee movement, single-origin beans, terroir, aroma and tasting notes became part of the lexicon; coffee has become the new wine.

Approximately 25 million farmers and workers in more than 50 countries are involved in producing coffee today. Although coffee is one of the world’s most valuable commodities, the majority of farmers struggle to make a living. Production costs are high, the process is labor intensive and the market is unpredictable. And Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. The recent coffee rust fungus (roya) in Central America and drought in Brazil have destroyed thousands of acres of coffee farms.

Coffee has evolved from first wave roasters like Folgers and Maxwell House who popularized freeze-dried and ground coffee to second wave roasters like Starbucks who introduced Americans to “specialty” coffee drinks to today’s third-wave roasters who brew artisan coffee. The third wave emphasizes the concept of terroir, the relationship with the farmer, the roasting process and finding the best brewing machines that highlight the bean’s taste characteristics. This certainly isn’t your grandmother’s coffee.

Sustainable grounds

Following the rise of the farm-to-table movement, biodynamic wines and organic chocolate, conscientious consumers are now demanding environmentally sustainable coffee. A certified “sustainable” coffee guarantees that farmers are given a fair price in exchange for meeting certain standards. To meet consumer demand, coffee roasters are increasingly looking to use only sustainable beans.

Companies like San Rafael, California’s Equator Coffee are based on that principle. More than 50 percent of their coffees are certified Organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance or some combination of all three. Equator establishes relationships with growers, offers microcredit loans to their farmers, and their farm in Panama supports the local economy. Blue Bottle, Ritual Roasters and Four Barrel bypass Fair Trade and buy all their beans directly from farmers, also known as direct trade, allowing farmers to negotiate their own prices.


As consumers demand better quality coffee, new innovations and technology are not only changing the way we drink our coffee, but also the way it’s produced.

To achieve quality and consistency during roasting, many roasters are participating in an open source project from Google called Artisan Visual Scope. The software records, analyzes and controls roast profiles. An automated logging system tracks moisture levels and temperature changes on a sample roast.  After cupping, roasters can either apply the data to a production roast or adjust the variables to rework the taste profile.

Even high-quality, perfectly roasted artisanal beans are susceptible to imprecise brewing. This has spawned a market for single-cup brewing machines engineered to make the perfect cup of coffee every time. Seattle-based Coffee Equipment Company’s $11K Clover began appearing in several independent cafés back in 2006. Using Clover, baristas could control coffee strength, water temperature and brew time. Coffee geeks raved that the machine brought out coffee’s flavor characteristics. In 2008, Starbucks purchased Coffee Equipment Company, making it difficult for independent cafes to find replacement parts for their machines.

At half the price of the Clover is San Francisco-based Blossom Coffee’s Blossom One Brewer. Baristas can still control variables like coffee strength, temperature and brew time, but the Blossom One also maintains the same temperature throughout the entire brew process, removing bitterness from the coffee. Roasters can create and store recipes using the Blossom app and print corresponding QR codes on coffee bags. Alpha Dominche’s futuristic Steampunk 4.1 ($15K) features four brew chambers, called crucibles, each of which can brew a different coffee simultaneously. Baristas input recipes and can control variables via a touch screen.

Subscription services

Even if you don’t live near an artisan roaster, getting top quality coffee beans is only an Internet subscription away. Craft Coffee, for example, delivers customers a box containing beans from three different roasters or beans from one roaster. Their specialists blind taste 50 coffees each month and deem only three of high enough quality to make it into their boxes. Seattle-based Bean Box offers four bags of hand selected artisan coffee from premium independent roasters in Seattle, including roaster profiles, tasting notes and brew guide. Bean Genius selects a 12-ounce bag of coffee for subscribers based on a palate profile quiz in which users choose four to eight favorite flavor notes. Customers offer feedback on the coffee so the bean genius algorithm can make better recommendations in the future.

To compete against omnipresent Starbucks, the CUPS app for iPhone and Android offers various monthly coffee subscription plans in conjunction with participating independent coffee shops in the New York metro area. Think of it as Netflix for java. Their $120 dollar plan offers unlimited coffee drinks for the month! The only caveat is users must wait 30 minutes between orders.

Beyond black coffee

Consumers are also responding favorably to the numerous new, and sometimes wacky, coffee drinks on the market. The smoothness and low acidity of cold brew coffee has been popular for years, but recently brewers like Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Cuvée Coffee have started serving cold brew from a keg injected with nitrogen. The result is a smooth creamy coffee reminiscent of a hand-poured Guinness. Austin based start-up Coffer has created a fizzy cold brew coffee through fermentation. Cold brew is mixed with cane sugar and yeast. The result is described as refreshing and effervescent. Prefer your latte a little chunky? Visit Korean-based chain Caffe Bene’s in New York for a five-grain coffee latte made with sesame, barley, black beans, brown rice and soybeans. And Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee, a mixture of coffee, grass fed butter and MCT oil, claims to curb users appetite and boost brainpower. Praised by some and criticized by others, Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee shop is scheduled to open in Santa Monica, California in February.

Who knows what the future holds for the artisan coffee industry. Coffee delivered by drones? An alarm clock and coffee brewer in one? One thing is for sure; it’s definitely time to put that Mr. Coffee away.

If you’re a local coffee startup, we’d love to hear from you. Bon Appétech Conference will be a great way to connect with industry stakeholders, large brands and influential decision makers. We are hosting a startup expo where entrepreneurs can showcase and launch new products, including coffee innovations. More information available at

Post image copyright 2015 by Steve Harris. See full license for use.