Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Rarebird.
- Rarebird is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund its coffee alternative aimed at “supporting mental wellness.”
- The Rarebird brew replaces caffeine with the metabolite paraxanthine (PX).
- PX potentially increases alertness in individuals without the anxiety sometimes associated with caffeine.
- Backers have so far pledged more than $15,000 of a $7,500 goal as of this writing.
Why it matters:
About 80% of US adults consume caffeine every day via coffee, energy drinks, and other sources. While it’s a stimulant that can boost alertness, caffeine can also reduce sleep, increase anxiety and speed up the heart rate.
Research has found PX to have fewer anxiogenic effects than caffeine itself. In other words, you’re less likely to get the jitters from a morning brew than you would with traditional coffee-containing caffeine. Other purported benefits of PX include improved short-term memory, response time, and attention span.
Y Combinator graduate Rarebird also touts a mental health angle in its Kickstarter story, with founder Jeffrey Dietrich describing his own caffeine sensitivity and search for a decent alternative.
“What used to help me kickstart my day was now leaving me feeling stressed,” he writes on the Kickstarter page. After trying PX, he “realized it has the potential to help people improve their mental wellness.”
“There are over 50 million cups of coffee served in America each day and Rarebird has taken the key ingredient driving this and made it better,” AgFunder founding partner Rob LeClerk tells AFN in an email. “Jeffrey and his team have done an amazing job building a new kind of coffee company and I’m excited for everyone to try it. There’s no going back.”
As an investor, he sees a major market opportunity for PX-based coffee. “Starbucks is a $125 billion company because of caffeine. Now imagine the company that improves caffeine, giving you everything you love about coffee but without the jitters; just calm focus. This was something we needed to be a part of.”
How it works:
Caffeine metabolizes in the body when ingested. Around 70% of it becomes PX. However, this conversion process is slow; Rarebird says it can take “most of the day” for our bodies to turn caffeine into PX. Therefore, few actually get to experience the positive benefits of the latter.
- Rarebird’s coffee is simply coffee that leverages PX rather than caffeine.
- Rarebird “supercharges” the enzyme that turns caffeine into PX via a mix of chemistry and technology.
- It then infuses decaffeinated coffee beans with the PX to create its coffee.
- Users can brew PX coffee just as they would a regular cup of joe.
- According to the campaign FAQ, “most people report noticing the difference between PX and caffeine within 2-3 days after making the switch.”
As of this writing, there are seven days left of Rarebird’s Kickstarter campaign, which has already garnered more than $15,000 in pledges (of a $7,500 goal).
- Rewards for pledges run all the way from a coffee mug for those pledging lower sums, to a three-month supply of Rarebird’s coffee bags.
- A first production run of the coffee was scheduled for January, and first shipments are scheduled for Feb. 1. Rarebird is only shipping to the US right now.
- As is typical with any crowdfunded endeavor, delays may occur. Rarebird says its production capacity is “very limited currently.” Shipments may run as late as April in some cases.