Japan’s Suntory Holdings has invested in coffee-alternative start-up Atomo Coffee to expand the coffee-alternative start-up beyond the US.
The brewing and distilling major said Atomo tapped into growing consumer demand for more ethical products.
Seattle-headquartered Atomo produces a “beanless coffee”, which contains “the same molecular structure” as coffee but created from “widely available natural ingredients”.
In a statement, Suntory Holdings said: “As consumer awareness of environmental considerations increases worldwide, demand for more ethical products is expected to increase in the field of beverages as well.
“The company’s products, which use upcycled materials using advanced biotechnology, are an option that responds to the diversity of consumer tastes.
“The Suntory Group decided to invest in the company because it sympathises with the company’s ethical and advanced initiatives in the field of beverages.”
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In what it calls a “reverse engineering” process, Atomo re-uses agricultural waste products such as date seeds, millet, pea protein, fructose and chicory roots to produce a coffee-like product.
It aims to reduce the environmental impact of coffee production by “upcycling” food waste and avoiding deforestation. Atomo claims its coffee product creates 93% less carbon emission and 94% less water than coffee.
The company’s flagship product is an espresso alternative launched in 450g pouches in regular and decaf variants.
Pouches are sold in New York-based specialty coffee shop Gumption Coffee and are available for pre-order in the wholesale channel. Its website states the first shipments will arrive by 29 March 2024.
Atomo also produces cold-brew RTD beverage cans available through e-commerce channels such as Amazon.
Founded in 2019, Atomo raised $25,331 in a Kickstarter campaign in 2021 to develop the product alongside food and beverage developer Mattson Technology.
Last year, it secured a $40m in a Series A round from S2G Ventures, AgFunder and Horizons Ventures.