With The Coffee Apocalypse Upon Us, Scientists Are Engineering A Smooth, Beanless Cup Of Joe

09 July 2019
Credit: Miramax
The future of coffee is uncertain, but as food scientists and entrepreneurs in the US will have you believe, that same morning ritual can be achieved with an engineered concoction that doesn't even require coffee beans

Inevitably, at some point in you life, coffee ceases to be a liquid broth of vile bitterness and becomes lifeblood. We’re not sure what triggers the switch, the impending deadline of a University assignment, tempestuous relationships, perhaps the after-dark activities for youth in their 20s? But whatever the case, coffee is reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Without it our brains struggle to function and communication is limited. For anyone who has ever missed their morning coffee and been plunged in a social setting, the turmoil of this moment will be well known. It’s hell. And recovering from the consequences can be difficult. Loss of friends usually ensues pretty quickly.

With people drinking more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee each and every day, coffee is the second most valuable export for developing countries. But with that in mind, news that the global coffee supply is at risk is not so much depressing as it is alarming.

A full half of the world’s area that’s deemed suitable for growing coffee will be lost by 2050 if climate change remains unchecked, according to a new report from The Climate Institute of Australia. Yep, the caffeine that makes modern life possible could potentially be extinct by 2080.

The effects of this are already being felt around the world. Apart from those people turning up to work looking like a walking corpse, coffee shortages are also hurting the livelihoods of 25 million coffee farmers around the globe. Even advisors for corporate giants like Starbucks and Lavazza are concerned. Mario Cerutti, Green Coffee and Corporate Relations Partner at Lavazza, said at a hospitality conference in Italy in 2015, “We have a cloud hovering over our head. It’s dramatically serious. Climate change can have a significant adverse effect in the short term. It’s no longer about the future; it’s the present.”

Looking forward to the future, scientists are now taking it upon themselves to create a beanless cup of coffee. Sure, there’s an outbreak of measles in the States, anti-vaxxers are on the loose, and the cure for cancer still eludes us. But priorities people – what is a world without coffee? The smell alone is enough to invigorate our senses and have us foaming at the mouth.

As NPR reports, Jarret Stopforth, a food scientists, decided to reengineer coffee, brewing it without the bitterness or the bean. In an interview with the publication, Stopforth said, “I started thinking, we have to be able to break coffee down to its core components and look at how to optimise it.”

Stopforth partnered with entrepreneur Andy Kleitsch to launch Atomo. The pair turned a Seattle garage into a brewing lab, spending four months running green beans, roasted beans and brewed coffee through gas and liquid chromatography to separate and catalogue more than 1,000 compounds in coffee to create a product that had the “same colour, aroma, flavour and mouthfeel as coffee.”

As Stopforth explains, the process taught them more about the threats to the coffee world in the form of deforestation, global warming and rust, and saw the pair become even more committed to make consistently great coffee with an environmental focus.

While Stopforth won’t reveal exactly what its beanless coffee is made of, the company essentially uses a mixture of compounds found in food, antioxidants, flavonoids and coffee acids, before then adding caffeine to the blend. The concept might have coffee lovers repulsed, but it’s no different to the advent of chicory – proof that beanless coffee can become quite the trend. Back in the 1800s, when coffee shortages forced people to seek substitutes, chicory became something of a staple in New Orleans and converted a whole plethora of coffee connoisseurs.

With the future of coffee being uncertain, Atomo might just be the lifeblood of the future.

Expected to release its first products in 2020, it seems Stopforh and Kleitsch are ahead of the competition, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the beanless coffee industry started to attract a number of tech start-ups focused on reinventing everyone’s favourite brew.

Via GQ Australia