From Campus to Commerce: The Story of Bean Around’s Sustainable Skin Care

We learn about the coffee skin care brand founded in Ireland by college students Sadhbh and Aisling Wood. 

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Bean Around

Sisters Sadhbh and Aisling Wood were college students in 2020 when they founded their skincare brand, Bean Around, in Ireland. Drawing inspiration from the circular economy concept, the young entrepreneurs aimed to revolutionize the use of repurposed coffee grounds to create super-concentrated exfoliating bars. 

Today we’ll explore how these sisters are making a significant impact in the world of sustainable skin care.

The sisters pose with their products.
Sadhbh (left) and Aisling Wood (right) of Bean Around.

Innovative Skincare in Ireland

While repurposing coffee grounds for skin care is not a new concept globally, it is a fresh and innovative approach in Ireland—and especially rare for it to be championed by two young college students. “We have worked with research technologists to establish the maximum amount of coffee grounds in our formulation. Our bars are packed with super-concentrated exfoliating coffee grounds,“ Sadhbh says about the product. 

The thoughtful design of Bean Around’s products further enhances their appeal. “The bars are designed to be ergonomic and fit perfectly in the hand,“ says Aisling. The varied surfaces provide versatility, with one side offering a ridged surface for deep exfoliation and the other a flat surface for a gentler experience. “Since our bars are super-concentrated, powerful exfoliators, we use less packaging than salt and sugar scrubs, which has further environmental benefits,“ Aisling adds. 

Three bars of soap with mint leaves.
The sisters’ idea occurred in 2020 when their father began using coffee grounds as a makeshift scrub for his psoriasis. 

Commitment to Sustainability and the Circular Economy

Sadhbh and Aisling’s commitment to sustainability is evident in every aspect of Bean Around, from product design to packaging. As business students deeply concerned about climate change, they are determined to make a tangible impact. “We aren’t willing to just sit back and wait for all this talk to become reality,“ Sadhbh asserts. Their philosophy of rethinking, reimagining, and redesigning waste into valuable products is at the core of their business.

Bean Around’s packaging reflects their dedication to the environment. They supply their bars naked in returnable crates to local coffee shops and B2B customers, minimizing waste. For retail, they use 100% post-consumer cardboard. “Our packaging is minimal and recyclable, which further contributes to the circular economy,“ Aisling notes. This approach not only reduces waste but also challenges conventional linear business models, promoting a sustainable future through innovative practices.

The packaging for Exfoliating Bars.
Bean Around currently sells soap bars in two fragrances: lavender and peppermint.

Enhancing Products Through Feedback

Customer feedback has been instrumental in shaping Bean Around’s product development. Their exfoliating bars have received raves for their effectiveness, particularly from those with skin conditions like psoriasis. “Our dad has psoriasis and finds that the exfoliating bar is great to relieve itching,“ Sadhbh says. The positive feedback has prompted the sisters to conduct further research with a dermatologist to explore the bars’ potential benefits for psoriasis sufferers.

The versatility of their products has also been highlighted by customers. Nurses have found the bars soothing after frequent hand sanitiser use, and men have reported success in removing grease, oil, and glue. “We are planning to launch a Bean Around soap tray made from used coffee grounds for easy and neat storage,“ Aisling adds. These insights have driven continuous innovation, ensuring their products meet diverse consumer needs while staying true to their sustainable roots.

The soap bar and cardboard packaging.
The sisters say they love using their exfoliating bars to remove fake tan.

Balancing Academics and Entrepreneurship

Sadhbh and Aisling Wood, the dynamic sister duo behind Bean Around, demonstrate an impressive ability to juggle their full-time studies with their burgeoning business. The pair, who are enrolled in different universities and pursuing separate degrees, manage their time through meticulous planning and a shared commitment to their goals. “It can be quite a challenge managing our academic life with Bean Around, especially coming up to exam season and assessment deadlines,“ Sadhbh admits. 

Their different academic schedules also provide a unique advantage. “We often have varied periods of workloads and downtime,“ Aisling explains, allowing them to divide responsibilities effectively. This collaborative approach not only keeps their business running smoothly but also strengthens their partnership.

Sadhbh and Aisling Wood at a stand with their soap products.
The duo participated as exhibitors at the inaugural Dublin Coffee Festival hosted by Cup North.

Future Plans for Bean Around

Bean Around’s future is brimming with potential as Sadhbh and Aisling envision expanding their product line and exploring new markets. “We aim to repurpose as many used coffee grounds as possible,“ says Sadhbh. Their plans include developing a full line of skin care products, such as face scrubs and masks, all made from repurposed coffee grounds.

And their ambitions extend beyond skin care. The sisters are keen on opening a café where all items, from crockery to cutlery, are crafted from used coffee grounds. “We are actively pursuing other exciting opportunities for repurposing used coffee grounds,“ Aisling says. Consumers eager to try Bean Around’s innovative exfoliating bars can best reach them through Instagram

Beyond individual consumers, Bean Around also caters to businesses through their B2B market. They collect coffee grounds from company canteens and coffee docks, transforming them into exfoliating bars branded with the company’s logo. “These events are very successful since the company can demonstrate their sustainability commitments to their staff and clients,“ Aisling explains.

As the duo embark on expanding their product line and venturing into new markets, their mission to promote sustainability through skin care resonates deeply. Their initiative highlights the remarkable intersection of young entrepreneurship and sustainability, showcasing how innovative thinking can drive positive change in skin care and beyond.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work.

Cover image of the April + May 2024 19th Anniversary Issue

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