Coffee is an essential to many people — some couldn't go a day without it. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the caffeinated cultural fixture, ranging from complicated Starbucks orders to high tech brewing apparatuses. Hardcore fans even stress where and how their beans are grown — but, as with all imported goods, coffee production isn't always executed ethically.
Bean harvesting can involve worker exploitation, questionable farming practices and, in some cases, animal cruelty. But, thanks to two sustainability-minded scientists, conventional coffee creation methods are being challenged.
Agronomical engineer Camille Delebecque became interested in using biotechnology as a sustainable tool. So, alongside friend and food scientist Sophie Deterre, he created Afineur, a company that harnesses the power of microbes. Using spontaneous fermentation, the two hope to engineer more ethically-produced food and pharma — starting with coffee. After months of manipulating the taste and astringency of beans at the molecular level, they created a healthier, more sustainable coffee called Cultured Coffee.
Certain strains of microbes are applied to ethically imported, un-roasted coffee beans, which remove certain compounds while adding others. The beans, as a result, are less bitter, easier to digest and create less jitters. Bursting with bioactive compounds, they are better tasting, better for you and made sustainably in Brooklyn and Harlem.
Delebecque has high hopes for his microbial methods. Using fermentation to change the molecular integrity of food can potentially transform how we view food waste and unlock its potential as a source of nourishment. This theory is already being tested in his R&D fermentation innovation lab. Using spent grains leftover from beer production, he's engineering a new kind of protein powder — and more info on it should be available in the new year.
Much more than a new way to wake yourself up in the morning, Cultured Coffee could be the start of an entire movement that disrupts our consumption patterns. Afiner will surely be unveiling more high tech food in the future, so make sure to look out for new products on Eat Cultured.