Like many people, I cannot imagine my life without coffee, and my morning coffee ritual is the defining event of my day.
I like to drink coffee alone, in a quiet, comfortable place, trying not to think about anything, to achieve maximum emptiness in my mind and in my soul, to enjoy the "here and now" moment, and perhaps to accept something from God or from the universe.
In moments like this, I don't think about problems or difficult issues.
I don't think about how a coffee bean grown in India or Brazil ended up in my cup, thousands of miles away.
I don't think about the fact that coffee is the most popular drink in the world, about 10 million tons of it are produced every year, and the volume of production is increasing every year.
I don't think about the many problems associated with coffee production, from the impressive costs of growing and processing the beans to the serious harm to nature and the climate due to massive deforestation for new plantations.
But even if I think about it - would I give up my favorite beverage?
I don't think so.
But there are people who are thinking about how we can enjoy our usual favorite foods and, at the same time, care about the environment.
A team of scientists from the Technical Research Center (VTT) in Finland created coffee from cell cultures using a bioreactor designed for cell farming. The scientists brewed a batch of cultured cells derived from the leaves of natural coffee plants for the first time.
As the researchers explain, the essence of cell farming is the rejection of growing whole plants in favor of creating useful biomass. It can be produced anywhere on the planet without dependence on sunlight, water sources and climate. There is no need for farm machinery, fertilizers and pesticides, no need for the labor of millions of farmers, and the technology produces no waste. And most importantly - there is no need to cut down forests for planting, no need to destroy wildlife.
In their experiments, Finnish scientists took coffee leaves, separated them into fragments and placed them in a nutrient medium to grow as many new living cells as possible. The resulting crop was placed in a bioreactor to produce organic matter, which was later dried. The dried powder is roasted, with varying degrees of roasting, as with natural coffee, resulting in different flavors of the beverage. In addition, scientists can change the amount of certain compounds in the coffee, such as caffeine or flavorings, during the cultivation process.
The scientists brewed the drink by pouring hot water through a layer of roasted product on a filter - a brewing method common in Finland, which ranks first in the world in terms of coffee consumption - about 12 kg per person per year.
The resulting drink was tasted by the scientists themselves and a group of experienced tasters. Despite the fact that the drink is not made from coffee beans, its taste and smell were almost indistinguishable from ordinary coffee.
VTT admits that such "test-tube coffee" is unlikely to be to everyone's taste. Nevertheless, scientists have proved that laboratory-grown coffee can become a reality.
The world has long attempted to create substitutes for the products to which we are accustomed. In recent years, a number of companies and non-profit organizations have emerged that are involved in cell farming, which focuses on the production of agricultural products from cell cultures using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering and molecular biology to develop new methods of producing proteins, fats and tissues.
The most prominent area of the cell agriculture concept is the creation of animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, skin, and gelatin, thanks to growing concerns about the problems associated with traditional animal agriculture. Growing coffee is a little easier than, for example, beef, because the nutrient media for plant cell cultures is much less complicated, that is, cheaper than for animal cells.
Many of us are aware of the need to protect the environment. But this does not mean that we act accordingly. Even aware of the detrimental effects of overconsumption on our planet, many are not willing to give up their familiar foods, things, or lifestyles.
But what are you willing to do for the noble goals of preserving animals, flora, nature, and the climate?
Are you willing to change your tastes and preferences for the future of the planet? Are you ready to change your usual coffee for another, replacing it with an artificial version, albeit eco-friendly?
I would be grateful for your opinion.