Coffee is available in many forms – hot, cold, flavored and decaffeinated. But the idea of coffee without beans – well, this is something new.
It's called "molecular coffee."
Atomo, a startup company located just a few blocks from Seattle's famed Starbucks, Pike Place Market, said it's inverted – designing coffee beans. And if you're wondering why, you're not alone.
The idea began in the garage of serial technologist Andy Clich in 2018, when he and his friend, Jarete Stopfort, a food scientist who comes with decades of experience in the world of consumer packaged goods by major brands, including Chobani and Campbell Soup , they talked about projects they wanted to work on.
"I told him, 'I want to make coffee without beans,'" Stopport said. "And he said, 'You're blowing my mind, why would you want to do that?' "
The goal was to create a constantly perfect cup of coffee that is better for the environment," said Stopfort. He noted that coffee farming has levied a rainforest tax. In addition, most coffee is grown in certain latitudes, and as the climate changes, farms need to continually move higher, where less land is available.
A study by the Climate Institute, a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization, found that without strong emissions reductions, climate change would reduce the global area currently suited to coffee production by as much as half . Moreover, by 2080, the group says that wild coffee may be gone. Key coffee names from Starbucks to McDonald's to Lavazza are taking steps to make strategic investments to support farmers and sustainability.
Atomo went through hundreds of iterations, trying to find what Stopforth calls "the five basic components of coffee ̵
Coffee – yes, they call it coffee – is made with" tidy agricultural produce "that includes sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, acacia gum and yerba mate caffeine. They are all waste by-products that are typically discarded by farmers, Clich said.
CNBC tested it and asked people to take a blind taste test on a Seattle street. Most agree that it tastes sweeter than traditional cold brews, something the company says is deliberate.
Operations at Atomo Coffee
"Many people don't really like the taste of coffee," said Clates, "In fact, 68% of people add cream and sugar to their coffee because they just don't like the taste. "
The duo released their product on Kickstarter earlier this year, raising $ 25,000 and receiving a lot of love from
Atomo plans to deliver its first batch of cold brew to its Kickstarter collaborators in early 2020 and hopes to be in retail by mid-year as it continues to operate on its coffee grounds, give consumers a hot brew option that tastes and most importantly smells like a real deal.
"We want to give everyone the same experience, to take a spoon for what they have today. So whether it's a reason or whether it's a bean you want to grind, you know, our goal is to deliver you that coffee in the same way with the same ritual you enjoy today, and then give the same results you expect,
Atomo also drew attention beyond Kickstarter. Horizons Ventures, a supporter of Impossible Foods, invested $ 2.6 million in the startup. Brian Crowley, CEO of Soylent, also served as an advisor after meeting with Stopforth at a plant-based meal replacement company.
"I love h is they thought of coffee as an experience, not just a product, "says Crawley." The idea of providing a coffee-free, non-environmental coffee experience really excited me. "
Crowley said the two companies work at a food-tech space that seeks to find disruptive solutions to challenges, including sustainability issues, and in a world where brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat partner with large chains of restaurants left and right, he insists is a fad.
"This is where we stay, and part of it is because this is the right next step … And this, in part, I think we have to stay here because we have to do it. We need to find devastating solutions to these problems before that we are facing in terms of sustainability, "he said.