Coffee grown synthetically?
Coffee is a tropical crop that’s very temperamental.
It dislikes temperature variations and only grows in a narrow belt around the equator. Coffee is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Because demand for coffee keeps rising worldwide, making it a key driver of deforestation. Then, add to the mix disease and pests, which have wiped out crops in many coffee growing regions.
It’s easy to see why people are searching for alternative ways of growing coffee.
One is coming from a lab in Finland, where coffee has been successfully grown and brewed using cellular agriculture.
The process involves sterilizing a coffee plant leaf to get rid of unwanted contaminants and placing it on a base of nutrients, such as minerals and sugars, to stimulate cell growth. Once that is achieved, the cells are moved to a bioreactor, a temperature controlled container with a liquid suspension in which the culture can grow further. As it grows, it is then transferred to progressively larger bioreactors until it’s ready to be harvested.
The environmental advantage would be that you're not importing coffee from other countries. You would also be less vulnerable to system shocks if there's a geopolitical change or climate change. The disadvantage is that a lot of farms we personally know make their living growing coffee. It’s their cash crop. So, there are pluses and minuses.
Some argue making specialty coffee will be easier than ever: “You would certainly have the potential to design whatever taste you want, you could actually design the perfect bean!” States one scientist.
Lucky for us. We feel like we already have…