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August 13, 2015

PhilaU basketball player brews a coffee start-up

Jordan DeCicco invented Sunniva Caffe to get himself through morning workouts

Sunniva Caffe Contributed Art/

Caffe Sunniva comes in three flavors: Natural Vanilla, Natural Mocha and Pure Cinnamon.

A basketball player at Philadelphia University developed a protein-packed coffee drink in his dorm room to get him through his morning workouts. Now he and his brother are heading a start-up that's about to begin selling the drink in organic grocery stores.

And he's just a sophomore. has the story about how Jordan DeCicco developed the recipe for Caffe Sunniva, a fair-trade, organic Colombian coffee drink with 11 grams of protein per bottle and no artificial sweeteners. He and his brother Jake, a football player at Georgetown, now run a company they hope will make their drink a staple in the organic energy drink market.

Sunniva is a "super coffee" produced in Maryland whose ingredients include Arabica coffee beans and medium-chain triglycerides for energy, stevia and agave nectar for sweetness and milk protein for extra muscle. Three Whole Foods in Washington D.C., will begin stocking Sunniva this week and the brothers hope to have it available in Philadelphia by fall.

The student start-up couldn't have gotten off the ground without help from some regional resources for young entrepreneurs. The brothers got coaching from Blackstone LaunchPad and PhilaU business professor Thomas Fung, then went to the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to perfect their recipe.

It's clear from their efforts and enthusiasm that the brothers were bursting with energy even before they got into the caffeine business.

“Entrepreneurship is pure innovation and creative thinking," Jordan DeCicco told It's all about "going into a competitive industry and believing in your product and making it happen."