After the introduction of dairy–free milk and plant–based meat, now comes a new and more sustainable form of coffee: Beanless coffee.
The average person drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day, and an estimated 517 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in America alone. With a coffee tree only producing one pound of coffee a year, the problem soon becomes clear.
The coffee and climate change issue
Climate change is heating the world’s coffee-growing regions. Coffee requires a very narrow band of climate conditions to grow properly. If the climate where it is grown is too hot, the bean matures too quickly, resulting in poorer quality.
As the world’s climate heats up, coffee farms are seeking cooler climates needed to grow beans, usually found uphill, destroying the forests and natural habitats there.
“Coffee is causing deforestation at a pretty alarming rate — almost up to 10 [New York] Central Parks a day,” said Atomo’s CEO and co-founder Andy Kleitsch.
That’s where Atomo Coffee might be able to lead the way, with a method of producing beanless in laboratory conditions.
How is beanless coffee made?
This new method of making coffee paradoxically doesn’t use any coffee beans. Instead, food waste such as date pips, the discarded caffeine from decaffeinated tea, papaya and lemon.
Atomo claims that its molecular structure is the same as regular coffee and has the same taste — although it has been designed to be smoother and slightly less bitter.
The exact ingredients are: Date Seed, Ramon Seeds, Sunflower Seed Extract, Fructose, Pea Protein, Millet, Lemon, Guava, Defatted Fenugreek Seeds, Caffeine, Baking Soda
The process has been to reverse engineer the coffee bean and come up with a form of more eco–friendly, sustainable coffee production.
Sustainability of beanless coffee
“It’s really a necessity for the planet to find an alternative way to satisfy the demand for coffee and something more sustainable” says Andy Kleitsch.
Apart from helping fight deforestation, this new way of producing coffee has other benefits. It uses 94% less water and 93% less carbon emissions, with 98% upcycled ingredients. This fits in well with the startup’s initial aim of finding a way to replicate the taste of coffee while reducing the negative effects of traditional coffee production.
Investment in beanless coffee
Investors are also getting behind this new form of coffee. So far the brand has raised $40million in a funding round to scale its beanless coffee product line.
At the moment, Atomo employs 25 people and can produce 1,000 servings a day.
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Their beanless coffee is also selling at an increasing rate, which suggests that people actually like it. Andy Kleitsch, Atomo co-founder commented: “We hope everyone who’s been waiting for this has a chance to buy it, but we’ll probably run out before everyone has a chance.”
So will we all be soon drinking coffee that has been synthetically produced? There are a few challenges.
Firstly, in the age of organic whole food being put forward as optimal for health, will consumers go for something artificially produced?
Similarly, many coffee lovers enjoy what they see as authentic coffee sourced from regions around the world such as Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia. Will coffee lovers switch to coffee made in a lab?
It will be interesting to see if the environmental benefits of beanless coffee will win over nostalgic coffee lovers in the future.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Cup of coffee on a background of beans and on white. Featured Photo Credit: Marco Verch/Creative Commons 2.0.