You don’t have to panic, coffee addicts, it looks like scientists will come up with “Plan B” if all natural coffee sources disappear.
As climate change threatens traditional coffee cultivation, Finnish researchers say they have made coffee from cell cultures whose aroma and taste resemble the real thing.
VTT’s Finnish Technical Research Center may have come up with a more sustainable alternative to growing coffee beans by floating cell cultures in bioreactors filled with various ingredients for animal and plant-based products.
VTT researcher Heikki Aisala, who is responsible for evaluating the process, said that cups of cellular coffee probably had not yet passed the usual taste tests, but they had a lot of potential for a multi-billion dollar global industry.
“Of course not 100%. It tastes like a combination of different types of coffee. We’re not with the commercial selection yet, but it certainly resembles coffee at the moment,” Aisala said.
Heiko Rischer, Director of VTT’s research team, said that cell cultures grown in the laboratory provided a more sustainable way to make coffee, given that due to high demand, countries were using more and more land to grow coffee beans, leading to deforestation.
Rischer said the environmental benefits of laboratory-grown coffee included less use of pesticides and fertilizers and less need to supply coffee beans over long distances to the market.
Grown in Europe in the laboratory coffee should be authorized as a novel food before being placed on the market.
But do discriminating coffee lovers drink it?
Satu, a barista in a Helsinki café, thinks so.
“I think one day we’ll go there because all the natural sources of coffee will disappear, so we have to move on … If it tastes good and the scent is coffee-based, then why not? I think it’s possible,” he said.