Cellular agriculture is rapidly advancing, this time it has been used by Finnish scientists to successfully produce coffee cells. The achievement should not be as surprising, considering that Finland is the country that drinks the most coffee per capita in the world. Nonetheless, the innovation could help make the future production of coffee considerably more sustainable.
Scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have managed to produce the coffee cells in a bioreactor by employing cellular agriculture. The process consists of cell cultures floating in bioreactors that can be filled with a nutrient medium and used to produce various animal- and plant-based products. The team claims that the results of the first batches produced a smell and taste like conventional coffee.
The increasing demand for coffee, along with the sustainability challenges and ethical concerns, is making traditional coffee agriculture become completely unsustainable. However, both the development and market entry of such cellular agriculture, is currently pending on regulatory approval. So far, Singapore is the only state with an advanced legislature, with Qatar not being far behind. In the US, the USDA has required stakeholders in the cell-cultured field to present comments and data while labeling legislation is reviewed.
“At VTT, this project has been part of our overall endeavor to develop the biotechnological production of daily and familiar commodities that are conventionally produced by agriculture. For this, we use many different hosts, such as microbes, but also plant cells,” stated Research Team Leader, Dr. Heiko Rischer from VTT.
“In terms of smell and taste, our trained sensory panel and analytical examination found the profile of the brew to bear similarity to ordinary coffee. However, coffee making is an art and involves iterative optimization under the supervision of specialists with dedicated equipment. Our work marks the basis for such work,” added Rischer.