Cell-cultured coffee

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland announced in Sept 2021 that it had created a coffee-like brew without ever growing a coffee plant. The coffee was instead grown in a laboratory from cell cultures in steel vessels filled with a rich broth.

In a press release, Dr. Heiko Richter, VTT Research Team leader and head of the research team, said that “the experience of drinking your first cup was thrilling.” “I estimate that we are just four years away before production ramps up and regulatory approval is in place.”

Alternative ways to make coffee are similar to the growing global demand for meat and fish, which is taxing the earth’s resources. Mordor Intelligence estimates that the worldwide coffee market will be worth $102 billion by 2020. The coffee market, which includes whole beans, instant, ground, pods, and capsules, is characterized by intense competition and innovation.

The growing production and consumption of coffee around the world has raised concerns about deforestation, as well as pollution in rivers from run-offs. Coffee was traditionally grown in the shade, but with an increase in demand, farmers started cutting trees down to make rows of coffee that yielded more. Scientists warn that climate changes could lead to a shrinkage of coffee-growing areas in the future, especially for high-end varieties grown in countries such as Ethiopia. The search for a new cup of coffee began.

Rischer, from VTT, said in a media release that regulatory approval and more research are to come. He added, “tha,t said, we have now proven that lab-grown espresso can be a real thing.”

Scientists know that they can grow plant and animal biomass in laboratories. The process is laborious and expensive and can still evoke “Frankenfood’s” in the minds of consumers. The first lab-grown chicken nuggets, made by Eat Just in Silicon Valley, were approved for sale in Singapore at the end of 2020. Since then, they haven’t taken off elsewhere. Coffee will not have this baggage. The big question is whether VTT or whoever commercializes the lab-grown coffee can reach a price that consumers will accept – every day.

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