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Disruptive technology investor invests in bean-free coffee start-up.

Atomo is a US-based company working to develop what it calls bean-free coffee. ©Atomo

“The acceptance of agriculture alternatives has been proven with meatless meats and dairy-free milks, we want to continue that movement in a category we feel passionate about, coffee.”

Horizon Ventures, an early investor in Impossible Foods, has put $2.6 million into Atomo, a US-based company working to develop what it calls “molecular coffee.”

According to Atomo, the company reverse engineers the coffee bean in order to create a naturally-derived, sustainable coffee which can be used in place of traditional coffee. The company’s goal is to create a “better cup of coffee” that is better for the environment, will minimise deforestation caused by commercial coffee farming and reduce the need for beans.

Horizon Ventures is the Hong Kong-based private investment firm behind the funding. The firm was an early investor in Impossible Foods, a US company that produces the ‘Impossible Burger’ – a burger which is made of meat which is plant-based and grown in a lab.

“Coffee consumption has been steadily increasing year over year globally. We are proud to share Atomo’s vision in finding innovative alternative solutions to the growing issues surrounding the coffee industry,” said Tony Lau, investment professional at Horizons Ventures.

Commenting on its seed funding from Horizons Ventures, Atomo (@AtomoCoffee) CEO Andy Kleitsch said: “Atomo’s beanless coffee provides consumers with a sustainable choice while delivering the great taste and caffeine they expect in their morning cup.”

“The coffee industry is ripe for innovation and change.” said Atomo’s Chief Scientist, Jarret Stopforth. “The acceptance of agriculture alternatives has been proven with meatless meats and dairy-free milks, we want to continue that movement in a category we feel passionate about, coffee.”

Describing the process of how Atomo’s coffee is made, Stopforth said in a press release: “We are building mouthfeel and body of molecular coffee to mimic that of conventional coffee by replacing the polysaccharides, oils and proteins found in the insoluble part of the coffee ground with natural, sustainable and upcycled plant-based materials that deliver the same great effect.”

The company also stated that its innovation is still proprietary.

In addition to the $2.6 million boost, Atomo has named new advisory board members, including Brian Crowley, CEO of the “meal replacement” brand Soylent, and Chahan Yeretzian, a longtime coffee scientist who heads the Coffee Excellence Center at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Switzerland.

If all goes according to plan, the first bag of Atomo coffee grounds should be available next year.


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