Coffee needs very particular conditions to grow in, and that is why there are specific coffee growing regions throughout the world, like Ethiopia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chiapas, Honduras, and other areas located near the equator. As climate change causes disruptions to temperature and weather patterns, it will become increasingly more difficult to grow coffee in these areas and keep up with the global demand.
Ironically, not only is climate change affecting coffee production, but coffee accelerates climate change. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and with such a high global demand, this crop causes massive environmental damage. The intensive production of this crop leads to deforestation, soil degradation, and habitat destruction.
Compared to other plant foods, coffee has a high carbon footprint. Photo and data from Our World in Data, 2018
It’s difficult to report exact numbers, but it is estimated that a single cup of coffee requires 130 liters (34 gallons) of water, from farm to the final product. As demonstrated by the graph above, coffee also has a relatively high carbon footprint, with most emissions released during the growing process.
Coffee farms are threatened by climate change, while also acting as a contributor to climate change. How will we continue to drink our cappuccinos and cold brews, while minimizing our environmental impact?
5 companies creating the future of coffee
Despite climate change and environmental destruction, the global demand for coffee is not going anywhere, especially with an exponentially growing population set to soon reach 9 billion. As the second-most consumed beverage in the world, an alternative to conventional coffee is needed. Here are five companies creating the future of coffee:
Atomo (United States)
Atomo has reverse-engineered the coffee bean to create a beanless coffee made from upcycled dates seeds and a blend of other ingredients such as grape, chicory, and tea-derived caffeine. According to the company, it’s alternative coffee produces 93% less carbon emissions and uses 94% less water to make, when compared to conventional coffee. Atomo offers three varieties of cold brew: classic black, ultra smooth, and with oat milk, at $10.99 for a 4-pack.
Minus Coffee (United States)
Instead of using coffee beans, Minus roasts a proprietary blend of upcycled date seeds, chicory, carob, and lentils (that would otherwise go to waste) and then grinds them, just like coffee. Next, they brew the roasted grounds in a fermentation batch with caffeine. The final product is a near identical match to traditional cold brew, which Minus sells in 8.4oz cans for $5.
California Cultured (United States)
California Cultured uses plant cell culture technology to produce both cocoa and coffee that have identical characteristics to any cup of coffee or chocolate bar you can find at the store. For its alternative coffee, the company extracts cells from coffee beans, and then grows and multiplies them in a broth of natural plant nutrients. The cells live in large condition-controlled tanks that mimic the exact conditions of the rainforests in which cacao and coffee thrive. After about 3-4 days, the coffee cells are ready to be harvested, fermented and roasted to create a product identical to conventional coffee. The company currently does not have products on the market, and will need FDA approval first.
Voyage Foods (United States)
Made entirely without coffee beans, Voyage Foods’ replacement to the traditional cup of joe is better for the planet – while still giving you the caffeine boost you need. Although Voyage Foods does not provide much information about its alternative coffee, I had the opportunity to try the first version of it about a year ago. Here’s what I thought:
“I first took a swig of the coffee, and it tasted like a smooth cold brew coffee. It also had unique tasting notes that I had never tasted in coffee, leaving a slight smoky mesquite flavor in the back of my throat (for me, this was a good thing). I appreciated that the coffee had no acidity and thoroughly enjoyed it poured over ice with a splash of oat milk.”
Currently in stealth mode, Another is on a mission to create a cell-cultured, healthier, and planet-friendly coffee. The biotech startup is using cellular agriculture and novel technologies to create a cell-based coffee that is bean-free.
Do you want to shop the future of food? Check out the Future Foodie Marketplace, where you can shop for alternative coffee and other products of the future!