Coffee – Climate change is affecting the coffee fields around the world. Some predict that the supply of coffee will be severely curtailed in the years ahead. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture in their 2014 report “A bitter cup: climate change profile of global production of Arabica and Robusta coffee” predicts that less than half of the land now used for growing coffee will support the crop within 30 years.
The Seattle based start-up Atomo is planning ahead to this potential shortage. It is trying to replicate the flavor and mouthfeel of coffee at a molecular level. There are more than 1,000 compounds in a roasted bean, and 40 of those are critical for taste. They hope also to remove or reduce the strong acids that give coffee its bitter taste.
They ran a small scale test on the campus of the University of Washington. Of the students participating, 70% chose Atomo’s “coffee” over Starbucks. They have a Kickstarted campaign going on to fund further development. At the time I wrote this post their campaign for $10,000 had already reached $11,698 and had 24 days remaining. If you pledge $24 or more they will send you enough Atomo to brew 50 8oz cups.
Atomo is more expensive coming in at around $0.48 per cup. Compare that to a 38.4 oz container of Folgers for $6.91 on Amazon which will brew (using the recommended 2 Tbsp. [10.6 g or 0.37 oz] of ground coffee) about 78 cups of the same size for about $0.09 per cup.
Atomo will likely come down in price as they ramp up production. The price of real coffee will likely begin to climb as the coffee fields are affected by climate change.