New investment brings Atomo’s synthetic coffee one step closer to market

US start-up Atomo Molecular Coffee secures $2.6m seed funding from private investment firm, Horizon Ventures, to develop what it calls “molecular coffee” – a beverage that has all the characteristics of coffee but is made without organic coffee beans

Atomo has secured $2.6m seed funding from Impossible Burger investor, Horizon Ventures 

In the context of climate change and historically low prices making coffee production increasingly unsustainable, one company has come up with a novel response to the challenges facing the global coffee industry.

Atomo says it has examined more than 1,000 compounds found in coffee at a molecular level to ‘reverse engineer’ the coffee bean. These include compounds such as quinic acid, dimethyl disulfide, niacin, 2-ethylphenol. The result, Atomo claims, is a beverage that has all the body, taste and mouthfeel of traditional coffee.

"Atomo's beanless coffee provides consumers with a sustainable choice while delivering the great taste and caffeine they expect in their morning cup," said Atomo CEO Andy Kleitsch in a press statement.

The company behind Atomo's seed funding, Horizon Ventures, has a precedent of backing food substitute concepts. The firm was an early investor of Impossible Foods, which made headlines for developing the ‘bleeding’ meat-free Impossible Burger that is now available at selected Burger King outlets in the US.

"Coffee consumption has been steadily increasing year over year globally. We are proud to share Atomo's vision in finding innovative alternative solutions to the growing issues surrounding the coffee industry," said Tony Lau of Horizons Ventures.

As a mixture of climate change, low coffee prices and increased demand drives coffee produces to expand farms and move to higher altitudes, Atomo claims its product could relieve pressure on the industry and help reduce coffee production-related deforestation. Yet some critics have, however, suggested synthetic coffee is an inappropriate solution to the current crises facing coffee producers, instead calling for greater industry regulation.

The first bag of Atomo’s molecular coffee is expected to become available in 2020.

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