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Next Entry in Unconventional Food: Coffee-Less Coffee

Atomo startup in Seattle uses seeds and nuts and a chemical process
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2021 1:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – You can eat "meat" made from plants and drink "milk" made from nuts, but are you ready for coffee made without coffee? That's the question posed by a story in Bloomberg about a Seattle startup producing just such a brew. The concoction by Atomo Coffee is made not from coffee beans but from "upcycled" ingredients such as sunflower seed husks and watermelon seeds that undergo a patented chemical process. "Upcycled" refers to items once commonly discarded by farmers, notes the Beet. It has caffeine, it looks and smells like the real stuff, and it passes the taste test of Bloomberg reporter Manisha Jha. "While the cold brew lacks some of the bitterness one might expect from a cup of traditional coffee, it's refreshingly smooth with a lingering sweetness on the palate," writes Jha. A previous CNET taste test also gave it a thumbs-up.

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Atomo plans to roll out cans of cold brew later this year, followed by instant and whole bean varieties for home brewing. The company's pitch is sustainability—climate change is taking an increasingly large toll on regions of the world where coffee beans, particularly arabica beans, are grown. "We're not trying to replace coffee, but we want to provide a sustainable choice—like today, if you want to buy ... an electric vehicle or gas vehicle, you have that choice," co-founder Andy Kleitsch tells KING 5. The Beet looks at comments on the Bloomberg story and finds people passionately in favor and against. "That tells us either coffee-less coffee is the beginning of a new industry or is a fad that may quickly blow over," writes Hailey Welch. "But, what will happen when there's no option to drink regular coffee? Coffee-less coffee, we're looking at you." (Read more coffee stories.)

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