FINLAND – Two years after successfully brewing coffee in a laboratory, scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have disclosed detailed information on the groundbreaking process.
Published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the scientific paper outlines the step-by-step method employed by the researchers, beginning with the original coffee plant and progressing through cell cultures to alter aroma, caffeine content, flavor analysis, and sensory profiling.
As global demand for coffee rises, the production of coffee beans faces sustainability challenges related to land and water use, labor rights, and climate change.
The detailed process described by VTT offers a promising solution to these challenges through cellular agriculture, potentially allowing for more sustainable and regionally self-sufficient coffee production in areas with unsuitable climates for traditional farming.
Traditional coffee farming encounters limitations in production frequency, with one to two harvests per year. In contrast, lab-grown coffee, due to its controlled process and the renewable nature of coffee plant cells, can be produced in a month, accelerating production significantly.
Despite these promising developments, the journey of lab-grown coffee from the laboratory to consumer kitchens is incomplete.
Dr. Heiko Rischer, principal scientist and head of plant biotechnology at VTT Technical Research Centre, emphasizes the need for an ecosystem dedicated to the production and commercialization of lab-grown coffee.
While growing coffee cells in a bioreactor is one aspect, making it a commercially viable product involves multiple considerations.
The raw material’s origin, the soil, elevation, climate, and even the year of cultivation, along with roasting, fermentation, and brewing processes, all impact the end product.
Rischer envisions collaboration among various players in the coffee value chain—cultivators, roasters, blenders, fermenters, and coffee brands—to establish the necessary processes for producing and commercializing this sustainable coffee.
The publication of this scientific article, demonstrating the proof of concept for lab-grown coffee, is seen as a catalyst for fostering an ecosystem or collective effort with the resources, expertise, and motivation to pioneer a new era of coffee production.
VTT is ready to take on this challenge with the right partners and experts, aiming to revolutionize the coffee industry with a sustainable and innovative approach.