Photo: Atomo

At the Smart Kitchen Summit {SKS}, we’re all about exploring the future of food. But what about the future of drink — specifically the future of our favorite morning beverage, coffee?

That’s exactly what Jarret Stopforth, founder and CTO of Atomo, is trying to brew up (sorry, we had to). Atomo is reverse engineering coffee to make a beverage that tastes just like your favorite cup of joe — but is made without a single coffee bean. And they just raised a tidy $2.6 million to jumpstart their mission.

Stopforth will be at speaking about his vision for the future of coffee at SKS this October. To give you a little advanced taste, we asked the him a few questions about the catalyst to create Atomo and his mission to forge a more sustainable way for people to get their morning caffeine fix. Check out the answers below, and don’t forget to grab your ticket to SKS!

At Atomo, you’re making coffee without any coffee beans. Tell us a little more about how that works.
We looked at green beans, roasted beans and extracted (brewed) coffee samples and through advanced analytical procedures studied the volatile and non-volatile compounds present. By evaluating the individual compounds in coffee we were able to map the most significant ones contributing to the characteristic aroma and flavor of coffee. Once we identified the most significant compounds we evaluated upcycled and natural plant-based material with high sustainability indices as a source for extracting and generating the blend that enables us to create a coffee “dashboard” – with this we can make coffee without the bean and tweak our dashboard to create different flavor and aroma profiles.

What’s your go-to-market strategy?
From our Kickstarter campaign in February, we pre-sold 64,000 cups of coffee to nearly 700 people around the world. We plan to fulfill those backer’s orders by the end of this year/beginning of next with a public product launch in 2020.

Where did you get the idea to make coffee without beans? What was your motivation?
I am an avid coffee drinker and always look for a consistently enjoyable experience that I can rely on. Having my doctorate in food science I am also always looking at food and beverage with an eye on how things are made and how to disrupt or improve them. After having a lot of lousy coffee I said to myself one day that there must be a better way to enjoy one of my favorite beverages and to create it from the ground up where we can control for consistency and quality. I was working on this when Andy approached me to see what I was working on in the background and wished I could be doing full time. And after sitting together to talk through the idea, Andy was motivated to join the quest based on the threats we were seeing with the sustainability and future of coffee – we wanted to create a consistently great cup of coffee that was also good for the environment.

What’s the advantage of making bean-less coffee? Economically, environmentally, etc.
The benefit of beanless coffee is that it is more sustainable by not requiring deforestation as well as using upcycled plant-based materials. Likewise, by using the upcycled ingredients we can create molecular coffee for a fraction of the price it takes to farm beans. We are delivering premium quality coffee that’s accessible to all.

How do you take your coffee?

Keep an eye out for more speaker Q&A’s as we ramp up to our fifth year of SKS on October 7-8 in Seattle! We hope to see you there.

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