This New Coffeeless Coffee May Replace the Real Thing. Blame Climate Change
You may like your coffee with oat milk and a touch of sweetener, but have you ever thought that one day you might be drinking your coffee without the coffee? Atomo Coffee Inc has, because of one surprising reason. Climate change has made coffee beans an endangered species. This food tech start-up has created "coffeeless coffee" out from upcycled ingredients, meaning the parts of plants that used to be discarded. They are using chemical process to make sunflower seed husks and watermelon seeds mimic the flavor and taste of coffee minus the bean, but with the caffeine.
If coffeeless coffee sounds like the antithesis of the real thing, you are not alone in thinking that. But this company is preparing for a day when coffee beans are no longer readily available by creating a product that is identical in taste to coffee but contains none of the crops it's named after. Americans drink more than 400 million cups of coffee a day and about 110-120 million bags of coffee are produced in the world every year, according to market analysts, and while it looks as if we aren't giving up coffee anytime soon, eventually coffee may give up on us. The reason is that crops in temperate climates are becoming harder to grow and sustain due to changes in weather, soil, and temperature due to global warming.
Will climate change lead to a coffee bean drought?
Atomo Coffee calls itself the Tesla of Coffee, and cofounders and friends Andy Kleitsch and Jarret Stopforth are hoping that their coffee-less coffee will be a hit along the lines of meatless meat. For Kleithsch and Stopforth, the journey began in a quest to create better, more sustainable coffee. In their research, the co-founders were stunned by the negative environmental impact caused by large-scale coffee farming and learned that coffee is the “second most intense carbon footprint agricultural crop, behind cocoa," according to Atomo’s website.
Bloomberg Green just covered the impact that climate change is having on the coffee bean growing regions, and how vulnerable the $100 billion coffee industry is, given the climate crisis. “The plants that grow Arabica beans (favored by Starbucks and coffee connoisseurs) thrive in cool regions with distinct rainy and dry seasons but global warming is causing those regions to shrink," according to Manisha Jha, who wrote the article. Arabica is likely to lose at least 50% of its habitat, he adds, as temperatures continue to rise.
Is coffeeless coffee a sign of the times?
If you’re interested in pouring yourself a joe-less joe, right now you can purchase Atomo cold brew in individual cans, and soon enough, you’ll be able to brew some in your home. The company says they plan to roll out whole beans as they grow and expand. So far, Atomo has raised about $11.5 million in two rounds of funding since 2019 and now is backed by Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures whose portfolio includes Beyond Meat Inc. Would you invest?
Are Americans ready to give up coffee?
For a coffee-drinking culture, the question to ask is: Are we ready for this? Like most products nowadays, we rely on social media comments, reactions, and reviews. Bloomberg Green posted the news yesterday on Instagram and one comment said: “Meatless meat? Milkless milk? Coffeeless coffee? Is this shit even good for you? What’s next, oxygenless oxygen?” On the flip side, another comment read: “Where can I invest?” That tells us either coffeeless coffee is the beginning of a new industry or is a fad that may quickly blow over. But, what will happen when there's no option to drink regular coffee? Coffeeless coffee we're looking at you.