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The Best of Both Breakfast Worlds

Some say that the best ideas are sparked from personal experience.  

For brüst Protein Coffee, it was the personal experience of founders Josh Barr and Amar Gupta that led to their concept.  

Josh and Amar met at Western University in London, Ontario, while studying for their MBA. As former triathlon and squash athletes, they were frequent gym goers who loved to grab a coffee between workouts and class. Frustrated with having to juggle a protein shake in one hand and a coffee in the other, Josh and Amar thought, “Why not combine the two drinks?”  

brüst for All Canadians 

While their idea grew from their post-gym experiences, Josh and Amar knew that their new product was for all Canadians.  

In fact, on average, 62 percent of Canadians drink three cups of coffee a day and more than 50 percent are looking for more protein in their diet. For regular Canadians, getting protein with their morning coffee was very appealing—a delicious breakfast in the form of coffee, which also doubles as a great source of protein?  

Launching brüst 

With work experience at Nestle, Barr contributed background knowledge to developing and marketing their new product, which would be called brüst.  

The partners secured one facility that would mix their product and another that would bottle it. Bringing brüst to London and the GTA in 2019, they tested aggressively to ensure they had the best and tastiest product possible.  

brüst would not taste chalky. It would not be chock full of calories. And it would not be comprised of complex ingredients.  
The next big move was to scale up the product to a Tetra Pak, ready-to-drink format. The first production line was substantial, allowing distribution across Ontario.  

Forced to Pivot 

As with many businesses, March 2020 impacted a lot of businesses, and brüst was no exception. The partners faced grocery stores ignoring their calls and distribution lines shutting down. Josh and Amar shifted their focus to relying on e-commerce, as the demand for on-the-go products in stores dropped with travel and commuting significantly reduced. 

However, Josh and Amar wanted to support those working hardest during the pandemic, so they donated brüst to frontline workers. It was a way of doing their part throughout a challenging time. 

Establishing brüst 

While brüst had found distribution across Ontario, it did not hold shelf space in any national grocery chains.  

At an event at Western University, the partners met investors who helped them raise the capital needed to make a push into those big grocery channels.  

By late 2021, brüst had a deal with Loblaws for its national network of stores. Things began to snowball as the company received calls from Walmart in 2022 and Costco in 2023. They wanted brüst on their shelves, too. 

Further Growth through TechAlliance  

Being London-based business owners, Josh and Amar knew of TechAlliance through Western University and the thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem it provided. They connected with Manager of Venture Growth, Andrew Leest, and set up biweekly meetings to discuss further growth opportunities and increase connections to advance brüst’s market penetration.  

Additionally, TechAlliance recommended that the partners apply to the i.d.e.a. FundTM. With brüst’s plans of developing new green products by working with food scientists to launch plant protein-based products, it qualified for funding. 

The i.d.e.a. FundTM is supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). It is led by Boundless Accelerator (formerly Innovation Guelph) in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WeTechAlliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes, and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions. 

Vital Funding for Further Progression 

The additional funding gave Josh and Amar the latitude for work previously put on the back burner.  

They put every dollar back into the business and expanded research and development, testing a plant-based version of brüst. While it did not meet their standards of taste, they would not have been able to conduct adequate testing without the i.d.e.a. FundTM. Conversely, the partners tested a new flavour, mocha—which Costco had requested—resulting in a product they are happy with and already have a buyer for.   

Because of the investment, Josh and Amar could risk testing new lines and new recipes to expand their selection, while offering additional packaging options, such as an 18-pack at Costco.  

brüst is available in dark roast, light roast, and mocha or those craving coffee and protein all in one easy-to-drink bottle.  

Continuing to Grow  

Josh and Amar want to continue to grow across Canada. Once they have steady distribution and sales in Canada, they will expand their reach into the U.S.  

As for competitors in the U.S., there are a few functional coffee options, but their taste, ingredients, and quality are vastly different from brüst. 

Andrew Leest added, “brüst is a unique and great-tasting product that has simplified mornings for many Canadians, whether you’re a gym goer or not. It’ll be fascinating to see how the company evolves as its market grows!” 

To learn more about brüst, visit https://www.brustbeverages.com
To learn more about the i.d.e.a FundTM, go to https://www.techalliance.ca/i-d-e-a-fund/ 
To learn more about FedDev Ontario, go to https://feddev-ontario.canada.ca/en  

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