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Brief Published: 20 Feb 2019

Faux Coffee That Skips The Bean

Atomo is creating a way to replicate coffee without real coffee beans

As discussed in Coffee's Next Chapter, the effects of climate change on coffee production could be catastrophic, shrinking the area available for coffee bean growth by a predicted 88% by 2050 (National Academy of Sciences, 2017). To alleviate this threat, Seattle start-up Atomo has been developing a way to replicate the coffee-drinking experience without the need for real beans.

A team of researchers at the company have studied the 40 compounds of coffee that are vital to its flavour profile, and found alternative plant-based sources which offer the same taste. This creative combination creates a sustainable faux-coffee alternative.

To recreate the mouthfeel and brewing experience, they experimented with waste streams such as watermelon seeds and sunflower-seed husks to create a coffee-ground-like texture that can be brewed in a French press (see Global Food Trends: Sial 2018 for more on upcycling food waste). They also discovered that by leaving out the more bitter and acidic flavour compounds, the coffee alternative doesn't require milk or cream to improve the drinking experience.

In addition to running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, the start-up has collaborated with US food and beverage innovator Mattson to develop the formula further before launching directly to consumers in 2020.

This development in faux coffee arrives just as faux meat becomes more mainstream, and could mark the next chapter in sustainable alternatives to climate-change-stricken food and beverage products.

Read New Food Covetables and Sustainable Restaurants for more on how to raise the bar for sustainably minded food and beverage development. See Starbucks Launches Coffee-Waste Latte and Blockchain Influences Coffee Supply for further inspiration.