- Title: Scientists create beanless coffee for a more eco-friendly brew
- Date: 3rd January 2020
- Summary: HUILA, COLOMBIA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MAN HARVESTING COFFEE VARIOUS LOCATIONS (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF COFFEE BEANS BEING POURED AND STIRRED BARISTA MAKING COFFEE COFFEE BEING POURED BARISTA MAKING COFFEE WOMAN DRINKING COFFEE
- Embargoed: 17th January 2020 12:41
- Keywords: Atomo Coffee Climate change Seattle beanless coffee coffee coffee with no beans deforestation environment food and drink
- Location: SEATTLE AND SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/ HUILA, COLOMBIA/ VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- City: SEATTLE AND SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/ HUILA, COLOMBIA/ VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Environment,Climate Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003BUMCYMZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A U.S. start-up has reverse-engineered the coffee bean, producing imitation coffee with the same flavour -- but without the time, expense and environmental impact of using beans.
Based in Seattle - famed for its coffee culture - Atomo Coffee is the brainchild of co-founders Jarret Stopforth and Andy Kleitsch. Food scientist Stopforth said he grew frustrated with the taste inconsistency of coffee back in the summer of 2018.
He and his friend Kleitsch began working out of his garage to analyse coffee's compounds so they could recreate it.
"I decided to look into it and see if I myself could create coffee from the atom up. So building molecularly, coffee to be consistently great," said Stopforth.
By analysing the individual compounds in the coffee, Stopforth said they could map the most significant ones that contribute to the important aroma and flavour of coffee.
From February to March 2019 the two raised more than $25,000 on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to help refine and mass produce their coffee.
Then in August 2019 Hong Kong venture capital firm Horizons Ventures invested $2.6m of seed funding in the company.
Atomo Coffee is still adjusting its processes and ingredients. It is currently exploring the use of proteins, carbohydrates and oil components from commercial farming byproducts. These include watermelon seeds and sunflower seed husks.
Stopforth and Kleitsch are keen for their coffee to exist in ground form and to have a strong coffee smell.
"We believe in the ritual of coffee... When you start your morning and you get that aroma bomb from brewing, that starts your day off and that is also the way you first experience coffee," said Stopforth.
"The challenge with that is now we have to go and create a matrix that represents it and performs like it in your brewing method," he added.
One of Atomo's unique selling points is its small impact on the environment.
Last year, the head of the U.S. coffee trade body said low coffee prices may be pressuring farmers to carve out land in rainforests for survival.
Their behavior is concerning because felling forests accelerates climate change and could amplify the volatility of an already fickle coffee market, said Bill Murray, president of the New York-based National Coffee Association.
Coffee grows in areas including tropical ecosystems, as do rainforests which play a key role in sucking planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, acting as a brake on rising temperatures.
Increasing cultivation of the plant may drive deforestation by more than 100,000 hectares (247,105 acres) a year, found a paper presented at a 2014 International Coffee Science Association conference.
In recent years the food and drink industry has been innovating to break away from traditional production methods. Lab-grown hamburgers and steaks are in development along with gene-edited crops and plants grown in controlled indoor environments under LED lights.
Atomo Coffee hopes to have its cold press product commercially available in early 2020.
But is imitation coffee actually coffee?
"We say coffee is an experience and a result," said Stopforth. "We are making coffee exactly as you would experience it from the bean. We're just not using the bean," he added.
(Production: Tim Exton, George Sargent)
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