Remember how Tang powdered Orange flavoured breakfast drink exploded in popularity in the 60s when it was disclosed that the General Foods product was used by American astronauts in space? You must be in your 60s, because the fad didn’t last long. I wonder how long ‘Beanless’ Coffee will last?
Atomo Coffee is a U.S. start-up that describes itself thusly on its website: “We are food scientists, biochemists, coffee roasters and entrepreneurs, and we’ve reverse engineered the coffee bean to create a better cup of coffee.” Whether its ‘Beanless’ Coffee really is ‘better’ will be up to those who taste it. And the stuff appears far from ready for the mass market. In fact, Atomo’s Kickstarter campaign is still under way.
How Beanless Coffee came about…
Atomo says its co-founder, Dr. Jarret Stopforth, a noted food chemist, started to explore the constituents of Coffee as a ‘science project’ and gradually developed it into a commercial plan. Stopforth managed to identify about 1,000 compounds in Coffee that give the beverage its unique flavour and character. After some experimentation, he discovered that only about 40 of those actually make up the flavour profile Coffee drinkers know and love, and he’s come up with a totally artificial ‘Coffee’ substitute based on his work.’
Atomo claims taste testers overwhelmingly prefered the Stopforth Coffee over real Coffee. One of the main attributes Stopforth engineered out of his Coffee is that annoying bitterness that many drinkers hammer down with liberal doses of Cream and Sweetener. The company also claims its Coffee-like beverage is made from only naturally-derived ingredients.
Just the beginning…
Atomo says, once it’s perfected its Beanless Coffee, it will continue research in an effort to create substitutes for Coffee varietals, such as Colombian and Ethiopian. The company is also in the process of perfecting the product’s presentation. The goal there is to produce a substance that looks and smells exactly like fresh ground Coffee and works the same way in any type of Coffee maker.
Sister Erin may have summed up the reaction of lovers of real Coffee to the Atomo substitute when she declared, “It’s Wrong. Just Wrong!”
I won’t go out of my way to try Atomo reverse-engineered Coffee. I like real Coffee, and a number of recent scientific studies agree that trace anti-oxidants and flavinoids in real Coffee can be beneficial to your health. One such study even recommends we all drink up to 4 cups of (real) Coffee a day for our heart health. Did Stopforth, knowingly or unknowingly, engineer the beneficial compounds out of Atomo ‘Coffee’?
I also wonder if Stopforth has engineered the Caffeine out of Atomo ‘Coffee’. Folks who drink Java for the jolt will be disappointed if he has.
I also wonder how much Atomo Coffee substitute will cost at retail. Will it come in below the cost of the real Coffee type it mimics? If not, I predict that the product will be relegated to novelty/curiosity status.
On the plus side, though, I can see Atomo Coffee substitute and products like it jumping in to fill the predicted Coffee shortages looming as the result of a Coffee tree disease that’s destroying the plants across much of Central America.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but equate the Atomo ‘Coffee’ story with the Tang saga.
~ Maggie J.