In Sept 2021, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland said it had produced a brew that smelled and tasted like ordinary coffee – all without growing a single coffee plant. Instead, the coffee was grown in a lab from cell cultures in a bioreactor, or steel vessels filled with a nutrient-rich broth.
"The experience of drinking the very first cup was exciting,” VTT Research Team Leader Dr. Heiko Rischer said in a media release. “I estimate we are only four years away from ramping up production and having regulatory approval in place.”
The impetus for an alternative way to make coffee is similar to that for meat and seafood – growing world demand that’s taxing the earth’s productive resources. The global coffee market was worth $102 billion in 2020, according to Mordor Intelligence. The market – whole bean, ground coffee, instant and pods and capsules – is marked by fierce competition and innovation.