Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Beanless lab-grown coffee is now a thing

As "vegan meat" is having an extended moment, and artificial or molecular meat remains at the commercially unacceptable "pink goo" stage, strides are being taken to make another sacrosanct shibboleth of society more environmentally sustainable.
Beanless lab-grown molecular coffee is now a thing. Seattle-based Atomo, led by a tech vet and a scientist with food safety experience, has just obtained $2.6m in seed financing towards its continued commercial growth, following a Kickstarter campaign. They have developed a method to produce convincing lab-grown coffee grounds without the water- and land-hogging traditional methods, skipping the bean stage completely, and circumventing the dire warnings about the existing coffee crop in the face of climate change. Its ingredients include things like quinic acid, dimethyl sulphate, 2-ethylphenol and niacin, but apparently it's not half bad.
As with pink goo, there remains a perception hurdle, and many people would not be seen dead drinking a lab-produced brew, but its advantages may come to outweigh its drawbacks, especially if the price of estate coffee rockets upward as many industry analysts expect it to. Thousands of agricultural workers in developing countries may end up out of a job, or they may end up improving their wages and working conditions as "real coffee" becomes a luxury item - who knows?

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