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Scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have published an article detailing the process of creating cell-based coffee, demonstrating proof-of-concept for the method.


The research group was able to brew coffee from cells grown in a laboratory for the first time in 2021. Now, the process has been documented and released to the public, including the establishment of the cell cultures.


Published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the scientific paper describes the exact process the scientists used to produce coffee starting from the original coffee plant itself and establishing cell cultures to alter its aroma in the roasting process, caffeine content, flavour analysis, and sensory profiling by a panel of tasters.



The scientists chose to experiment with cell-based coffee due to the demand for coffee rising, while the production of coffee beans faces multiple sustainability challenges, concerning land and water use, labourers' rights and climate change.


While farmed coffee provides 1-2 harvests per year, each batch of cell-based coffee can be produced in one month due to the controlled process and the “infinitely renewable” nature of coffee plant cells that removes the need to grow new coffee plants from seeds.


Heiko Rischer, principal scientist and head of plant biotechnology at VTT, said: “It's one thing to grow coffee cells in a bioreactor. Making it a commercially viable product is a whole other matter. The raw material derived from different cultivars and species, and the soil, the elevation, climate, and even the year when the particular coffee beans were grown plus the processes of roasting, fermentation, brewing, are all factors that impact the end product. While lab-grown coffee is much more controlled, different approaches to, for example, roasting significantly impact the aroma profile of the coffee which is a key consideration for the consumer."


Rischer continued: "Our wish is that the publication of this scientific article, which clearly demonstrates proof of concept for lab-grown coffee, nudges forward the creation of an ecosystem or a collective that has the resources, know-how, and drive to pioneer an entirely new type of coffee. It is a huge challenge but one VTT is prepared to take on with the right partners and experts.”


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Scientists in Finland release proof-of-concept for cell-based coffee

Phoebe Fraser

14 December 2023

Scientists in Finland release proof-of-concept for cell-based coffee

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