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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Prefer raises $2m in seed funding for its bean-less coffee

Singapore-based bean-less coffee company Prefer has raised $2 million in a seed funding round, which it will use to “secure global coffee supply”.

The round was led by Forge Ventures, with participation from 500 Global, A*ccelerate, Better Bite Ventures, Sopoong Ventures, Seeds Capital, Entrepreneur First and Pickup Coffee.

According to Prefer, it is forecasted that by 2050, 50% of coffee farmland will no longer be suitable for use. Prefer's proprietary fermentation technology upcycles surplus bread, soy pulp and spent grain to create a coffee substitute that offers the same aroma, taste and brewing experience as traditional coffee.

The strategic raise is set to enable Prefer to make significant investments in growing the capacity of its production facility and expand its ground coffee and RTD bottled beverages across the Asia-Pacific region, starting with Singapore and the Philippines.

Prefer’s ground coffee is compatible with standard espresso machines. The company provides its coffee to B2B customers that are looking for an affordable and sustainable coffee supply – the customers include cafes, coffee chains, distributors and flavour houses. It also offers RTD bottled coffee for quick-service food businesses, events and retail.

Jake Berber, co-founder and CEO of Prefer, said: “As climate change erodes coffee farmlands, erratic weather puts crops at risk and demand continues to rise, coffee bean prices will skyrocket. That’s where Prefer comes in to ensure the production and price of coffee becomes sustainable and stable in the long run. We believe Prefer is the next generation of the commodity we know as coffee today.”

Although Prefer is waiting on a full lifecycle analysis to measure carbon footprint accurately, it estimates that it produces ten times less carbon dioxide than traditional coffee beans.

Furthermore, the caffeine level of Prefer coffee is customisable, offering the ability to design caffeine levels based on customers’ needs. Cafes in Singapore have already started offering Prefer on their menu as the default decaffeinated coffee; while others plan to offer the beverage with twice the caffeine content of traditional coffee.

Vishal Harnal, managing partner at 500 Global, commented: “Climate change is steadily eroding the land needed to produce food ingrained in our diet and culture. Prefer’s novel fermentation technology is tackling this challenge by seeking to enable us to recreate many of the foods and flavours we take for granted, starting with coffee.”

Ding Jie Tan, co-founder and CTO of Prefer, added: “Fermentation is as old as human civilisation and has been historically used to craft flavours, preserve ingredients as well as enhance nutrition content in foods. Through Prefer, we want to further its conventional use by leveraging cutting-edge science to create a line of sustainable flavours that’s accessible to everyone while conserving the environment.”


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