Health & Wellness

The Next New Thing is Beanless Coffee

Would you drink synthetic coffee to reduce your environmental footprint?

Photo: iStock/Photoboyko.


Big investors are hoping that coffee-lovers will be willing to abandon their java and switch to drinking beanless coffee. The caffeinated beverage is being backed by the same investors who put their money into the successful Beyond Meat plant-based burgers now being sold in supermarkets and at chains such as Tim Hortons and A&W.

The Seattle-based company Atomo says its synthetic coffee could be on the market as soon as 2020 and will taste very much like real coffee. Atomo promises an “ultra smooth” beverage ripe with “beautiful, roasted, toffee notes.”

As with Beyond Meat burgers, Atomo is pushing the synthetic coffee in the hope that consumers will be willing to try something new to reduce their environmental footprint.

The link between animal agriculture and climate change is widely known, but coffee production also harms the environment, mainly through deforestation, a leading contributor to climate change.

“Rising temperatures in coffee-growing regions are causing the fruit of coffee trees to ripen too quickly, not fully allowing the beans inside to develop all their wonderful flavours and aromas,” according to Atomo’s website. “Farmers are doing their best to continue cultivating a quality cup of coffee for their customers, but unfortunately that means moving their farms uphill into cooler growing regions.” According to Atomo, that uphill relocation alone is responsible for nearly 250,000 acres [1,000 square kilometres] of lost forests each year.”

How the company will “brew” the coffee remains a mystery. On the corporate website, chief scientist Jarret Stopforth says the company began by analyzing the compounds present in roasted coffee beans and brewed coffee. “We were able to map the most significant compounds contributing to the characteristic aroma and flavour of coffee,” he says. The challenge now is to replication those compounds in the lab.