Wake up to ‘standard’ coffee produced in the Finnish lab

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As climate change threatens traditional coffee farming, Finnish scientists claim to have produced coffee from cell cultures that resembled the real thing in aroma and taste.

The VTT Technology Research Center in Finland may have come up with a more sustainable alternative to growing coffee beans through cell cultures floating in bio-kilns filled with the nutrient medium used to make various animal and plant based products.

Heike Aisala, VTT researcher responsible for evaluating the process, said the cups of cellular coffee have not yet passed the standard taste tests, but have a lot of potential for the multi-billion dollar global industry.

“Certainly not 100%. It’s like a blend of different types of coffee. We’ve not there yet with the business type, but it’s definitely similar to coffee at this point,” Isala said.

Heiko Risher, head of the VTT research team, said laboratory-grown cell cultures offer a more sustainable way to produce coffee, and because of the high demand, countries have always dedicated large tracts of land to growing coffee beans, leading to deforestation.

Among the environmental benefits of coffee grown in the laboratory is the reduction in the use of pesticides and fertilizers and the need to send coffee beans to markets over long distances, Risher said. In Europe, laboratory-grown coffee must be approved as a “novel food” before it can be sold. But do discriminating coffee lovers drink it?

Sadhu, a barrister at the Helsinki Coffee Shop, thinks so. “Some day we think we’re going that way because the natural coffee sources are gone, so we have to move on … if it’s delicious and based on aromatic coffee, why not? I think it’s possible,” he said.



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