- Scientists have produced coffee cells in a bioreactor through cellular agriculture
- His method involves taking a cell sample from a coffee plant and harvesting it.
- Lab-grown coffee tastes like the real thing and could help combat deforestation
Scientists have created the first lab-grown, genetically engineered coffee that they claim ‘smells and tastes like the real thing’.
Researchers based in Finland used a process called cellular agriculture – which involves extracting cells from a small plant or animal sample.
It has already been used to make artificial meat and milk.
In the latest example of a lab-grown alternative, cell samples were taken from Arabica, a popular coffee plant that accounts for 56 percent of global production.
The cell samples were transferred to the bioreactor to form the biomass, which was harvested for roasting and cooking.
Work was initiated by extracting cells, establishing the respective cell lines in the laboratory, and transferring them to bioreactors to produce biomass. After analysis of the biomass, a roasting process was developed, and the new coffee was evaluated by VTT’s ‘Sensory Panel’.
The researchers at VTT start with extracting cells from a small plant sample—in this case, a leaf from a coffee plant.
How do you make lab grown coffee?
1. Cell Cultures Extracted from Coffee Plants
2. Cells are propagated and multiplied on the growth medium
3. Cells were transferred to the bioreactor
4. The resulting biomass is harvested and analyzed
5. Biomass is dried and roasted
With lab-grown coffee, the researchers claim they can tackle sustainability issues facing the global coffee industry, such as freeing up space for coffee plants to meet the insatiable demand for the beverage around the world. Need of.
The research is being carried out at the VTT Technical Research Center in Espoo, Finland – the country that drinks the most coffee per capita.
Dr Heiko Rischer, Head of Plant Biotechnology at the VTT Research Institute in Finland, said: ‘This process uses real coffee plant cells. new atlas.
‘Initially a cell culture starts from a plant part – eg. a leaf. The formed cells are propagated and multiplied on a specific nutrient medium.
‘Eventually, the cells are transferred to a bioreactor from which the biomass is harvested. The cells are dried and roasted and then coffee can be made.
According to the results of a ‘sensory analysis’, the first batch produced by VTT has their laboratory smell and tastes like traditional coffee.
After drinking a cup, Dr Risher said, ‘there is a surprisingly full aroma’.
“In terms of smell and taste, our trained sensory panel and analytical investigation found that the brew resembles normal coffee,” he said. ‘The experience of drinking the first cup was exciting.’
Resulting roasted coffee produced by coffee cell culture (right) and VTT’s cellular farming method
Pictured is dried coffee cell biomass, which is harvested for drying and roasting to produce coffee that smells and tastes like the real thing
What is cellular agriculture?
Cellular agriculture is the production of animal- or plant-derived foods from cell culture.
It is often described as a more sustainable and ethical way of producing animal or plant protein for human consumption.
Animal insulin can be considered the first cellular agricultural product, created in 1922—a feat that won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine the following year.
Source: New Harvest
The production process of VTT is based on existing and established technology such as the operation of conventional bioreactors.
Furthermore, the idea that coffee cells could be used to make coffee was presented in 1974 by plant scientist PM Townsley.
But VTT scientists have put this theory into practice with their lab-grown brew, which they think could hit the market by 2025.
“My guess is that we are only four years away from ramping up production and getting regulatory approval,” Rischer said.
He said regulatory approvals and market launch are hurdles before lab-grown coffee can become a commercial product.
All coffee ingredients currently produced in laboratory conditions represent experimental food and would require regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be marketed and sold to US consumers.
In Europe, lab-grown coffee must be approved as a ‘Novel Food’ before marketing.
Lab-grown coffee could help make coffee production more sustainable, avoiding issues like deforestation.
Elvira Karkkanen, a researcher preparing a cup of coffee grown in the laboratory at VTT in Finland, the country that drinks the most coffee per capita
Elviira Kärkkäinen and Heiko Rischer look at coffee biomass grown in their lab. Regulatory approval and market introduction are a hurdle before lab-grown coffee becomes a commercial product
Because of the high demand for coffee around the world, more land is needed to produce enough coffee beans, leading to deforestation – especially in sensitive rainforest areas.
Deforestation – the permanent removal of trees – is a major environmental issue, leading to the destruction of forest habitat and the loss of biological diversity.
Coffee consumption in the Western diet is responsible for the loss of four trees per year, along with chocolate, beef and palm oil-based products, according to a study published earlier this year.
The link between consumption and deforestation
According to a 2021 report, the average Briton’s diet is responsible for the loss of four trees each year – with coffee, chocolate, palm oil and beef causing the most destruction.
Chocolate consumption in the UK and Germany is causing deforestation in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, while demand for beef and soy in the US, EU and China is eroding.