The world's most popular morning (or afternoon pick-up) beverage is coffee. From lattes to espresso to americano, the caffeinated drink comes in many different forms. But unfortunately, the regular consumption of coffee poses a threat to our environment. But, a Finnish lab has been experimenting with developing an eco-friendly coffee bean.
In the United States, 81 million dollars is spent on coffee each year. And throughout the world at least 600 billion cups are drunk. These large numbers pose a threat to our environment. Commercial farming the beans caused a number of problems, such as deforestation, water contamination, loss of biodiversity. To help reduce coffee's environmental impact, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC) was created. They work with the United Nations to work on bettering cropping methods. According to the SCC, coffee consumption will continue to increase each year. They predict that by 2050, the number of cups drunk will be tripled.
A research group at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has created a sustainable option. Biotechnologists worked alongside chemists, they used plant cells and put them inside bioreactors at a controlled amount of light, oxygen, and temperature. Then food scientists gave the coffee powder a smell and taste to resemble coffee. The team's head researcher, Heiko Rischer said, "The experience of drinking the very first cup was exciting." He did admit that it of course didn't taste exactly the same as the original but it still needs more work and the outcome will be worth it for the planet. Rischer added, “I estimate we are only four years away from ramping up production and having regulatory approval in place.”
Making lab-grown coffee is no easy task, it could take years before the reach team can perfect their designs. The product also needs to be approved by the FDA and consumers will also need to make the switch to sustainable coffee. Rischer said, “We have now proved that lab-grown coffee can be a reality." He also explained that “The true impact of this scientific work will happen through companies who are willing to re-think food ingredient production. Ultimately, all efforts should result in more sustainable and healthy food for the benefit of the consumer and the planet.” Small steps from civilians and large steps from corporations need to be taken to help our environment. Eco-friendly lab-grown coffee is a stride n the right direction.