Coffee comes in many forms – hot, cold, flavored and decaffeinated. But the idea of coffee without bean – well, it's something new.
It's called "molecular coffee."
Atomo, a startup located just blocks from the famous Starbucks in Seattle's Pike Place Market, said it was the reverse-engineered coffee bean. And if you're wondering why, you're not alone.
The idea started in serial tech entrepreneur Andy Kleitsch's garage in 2018 when he and friend Jarret Stopforth, a food scientist with decades of experience in the world of consumer-packaged goods at major brands, including Chobani and Campbell Soup, talked about projects they wanted to work with.
"I told him, & # 39; I want to make coffee without the bean, & # 39;" said Stopforth. "And he said, & # 39; You blow your mind, why do you want to do it? & # 39;"
The goal was to make a consistently perfect cup of coffee that is better for the environment, Stopforth said. He noted that coffee use has taken a toll on the rainforest. In addition, most coffee is grown in certain latitudes, and as the climate changes, farms must constantly move higher, where there is less land.
A study by The Climate Institute, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, found that without powerful measures to reduce emissions, climate change will cut the global area currently suitable for coffee production by as much as half. By 2080, the group says that wild coffee can be eradicated. Big coffee names from Starbucks to McDonalds to Lavazza are taking steps to make strategic investments to support farmers and sustainability.
Atomo has gone through hundreds of iterations to try and nail what Stopforth calls "five core components of coffee ̵[ads1]1; the body, the body's mouth feel, the aroma and the taste."
The coffee – yes, they call it coffee – is made with " upcycled agricultural products "which include sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, acacia gum and yerba mate caffeine. All are waste streams usually thrown by farmers, Kleitsch said. Other ingredients and production process are kept close to the west of intellectual property.
CNBC tried it and asked people to take part in a blind taste test on the street in Seattle. Most agree, it tastes sweeter than traditional cold brews, which the company says is intentional.
Operations at Atomo Coffee
"Many people don't really like the coffee taste," Kleitsch said. "In fact, 68% of people add cream and sugar to their coffee because they simply don't like the taste."
The duo sent the product to Kickstarter earlier this year, collecting $ 25,000 dollars and getting a lot of love from those who are just as passionate about how coffee is made.
Atomo plans to ship its first batch of cold brews to its Kickstarter contributors in early 2020 and hopes to be in the retail sector by the middle of the year as it continues to work on its coffee grids to provide consumers with a hot brewing alternative that tastes, and most importantly , smells like the real deal.
"We want to give everyone the same experience, desire for beer, for what they have today. So whether it's a foundation or a bean that you want to grind, you know, our goal is to deliver that coffee to you in the same way with the same ritual you enjoy today, and then deliver the same results you expect, "Kleitsch said.
Atomo has also gained attention outside of Kickstarter as well. Horizons Ventures, a supporter of Impossible Foods, invested $ 2.6 million in the startup. Bryan Crowley, CEO of Soylent, is also an advisor after meeting Stopforth in the plant-based meal company.
"I love that they thought of coffee as an experience, not just a product," Crowley said. "The idea of delivering the coffee experience without bean and without environmental impact really excited me."
Crowley said that both companies operate in the "food-tech" space, which seeks to find disruptive solutions to challenges, including sustainability issues. And in a world where brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are partnering with big restaurant chains on the left and right, he insists, this is not a fad.
"It's here to stay, and part of it is because it's the right next step … And that's partly why I think it's here to stay because we have to do it. We have to find disruptive solutions to these problems that we face from a sustainability standpoint, "he said.