NEW YORK —Decaffeinated coffee is due for an upgrade, said Sharon Taylor. The creative director turned beverage entrepreneur is aiming to elevate the segment with Velty, a brand of caffeine-free coffee featuring gut-friendly botanicals.
Ms. Taylor swore off caffeine after being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and ADHD. Medication improved her energy and focus, but it couldn’t replace her daily coffee ritual.
“I looked for great decaf options and there just wasn’t a lot out there,” she said. “Decaf can feel like a dirty word in the coffee world, but there are a lot of caffeine-free people who still love the taste and ritual of coffee. I wanted to rebrand decaf and really own it in a rebellious way.”
She developed Velty with the help of specialty coffee expert David Palazuelos, chief operating officer and head of coffee at the New York-based startup. Their first product is a “classic uncaffeinated” coffee. It combines dark roast beans — sourced from women farmers in Nicaragua and Colombia — with functional ingredients promoting a range of health benefits.
The formulation features lion’s mane and reishi mushroom for stress reduction and immune support. Inulin, a prebiotic fiber made from artichokes, supports good bacteria in the digestive tract. Protein- and fiber-rich mesquite powder is a less common ingredient that offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
“The mesquite adds a nice smoky and chocolatey taste with hints of caramel and molasses,” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s also a lovely alternative to sugar, so it brings in a little bit of subtle sweetness.”
Freeze-dried in single-serve sachets, Velty’s classic uncaffeinated coffee is available direct-to-consumer through the brand’s website. It will make its retail debut at a pop-up grocer in Denver later this month. Ms. Taylor hopes to partner with specialty shops in New York before expanding into larger brick-and-mortar formats.
Additional flavors already are in the works. The brand plans to introduce a limited-edition spiced coffee variety made with ginger and cinnamon in the coming months. Developing new ingredient combinations and new product formats geared toward digestive health is another area of focus.“I think as we start to build out new products, they could go more into the gut-friendly space rather than the coffee space,” Ms. Taylor said. “Our future will definitely involve more coffee, but there’s a whole world of opportunity beyond that, too.”