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Seeking the Midas Touch

Technical Entrepreneurship graduate Ali Almasi '16 working to bring high-quality saffron to the U.S. market at an affordable price.

For centuries, saffron has remained the most sought after spice in the world. Its flexibilty for use across an endless number of foods, including rice, desserts and teas, makes it a product that is always in demand but difficult to come by at a reasonable price.

Ali Almasi '16, a recent graduate of Lehigh University's Technical Entrepreneurship program, is seeking to alter the saffron business landscape stateside through intelligent framework that combines local company connections and importing from his home country of Iran.

In the Spring of 2017, the 30-year-old Almasi launched Almas Foods International LLC, and set up operations at SoBeCoWorks, a collaborative work space located in South Bethlehem. Almas Foods will distribute nutritional products, spices and teas and more through regional retail distribution and sell its products online through Amazon and its own website.

Almasi's signature product is "Zaffrus," a multi-tiered saffron product that is imported from Iran, and processed locally, ideally making the spice a more affordable option for customers.

"The northeast part of Iran has the ideal elevation and soil to grow the saffron crocus," explained Almasi. "Zaffrus offers various saffron products and herbal teas harvested from the tiny threads from the saffron crocus.”

Setting up the company's offices at SoBeCoWorks allows Almasi to keep overhead costs in control overhead costs and the option to expand in the future.

"We can keep office space affordable for small business start ups like Zaffrus by allowing members to use or rent only the space they need," explains SoBeCoWorks founder Santiago Rivera.

Almasi is already seing success locally, teaming up with local ice cream shop Nuts About Ice Cream. The store currently offers Saffron Pistachio ice cream in both natural and sugar free flavors.

"It’s the most awesome quality we have used," said Nuts About Ice Cream owner Bharatkumar Joshi. "We should know, as we have been using saffron for generations."

Almasi is also working with another local company to market saffron-flavored popcorn.

July 19, 2017

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