Even coffee is no longer required to originate from nature. VTT Technical Research Centre, a public research institute owned by the Finnish government, has produced the first batches of coffee “cells” in a bioreactor.
The institute stated in a press release that the innovation could help make coffee production more sustainable. The first VTT batches produced in a Finnish laboratory smell and taste like conventional coffee.
This year, coffee is among the foods that have been in short supply and experienced price increases. Increasing demand and numerous sustainability challenges in traditional coffee agriculture may exacerbate both of these issues. More land is required to produce sufficient quantities of coffee beans, which frequently results in deforestation, especially in sensitive rainforest regions.
Similar to the technologies used to replicate animal-based products such as meats and milk, coffee cell cultures begin replicating in nutrient-filled bioreactors. After analyzing the biomass, a roasting process was developed, and a trained sensory panel at VTT evaluated the new coffee. Several disciplines and experts in plant biotechnology, chemistry, and food science were required for the procedure.
Dr. Heiko Rischer, the leader of the research team, explains, “At VTT, this project was part of our overall effort to develop the biotechnological production of everyday and familiar commodities that are traditionally produced by agriculture.” “For this, we use a variety of hosts, including microbes and plant cells.”
Currently, all coffee produced under laboratory conditions is considered an experimental food and would require FDA approval before being marketed and sold to U.S. consumers. Before being marketed in Europe, lab-grown coffee must first be approved as a Novel Food.