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Slashing CO2 emissions, Atomo's cold brew is made without coffee beans

Higher temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall are threatening coffee crops, and regions most suited to growing coffee are forecast to decline by 50% by 2050. One potential solution is to find and grow wild coffee plants that can tolerate a hotter, drier climate. Another is to bypass coffee plants altogether.

Atomo makes cold brew 'coffee' without the beans. The Seattle-based startup turns date seeds, grape skin and chicory root into a canned beverage that strongly resembles real coffee. To mimic the familiar buzz, Atomo adds around 84 mg of caffeine sourced from tea.

According to Atomo, it produces 93% fewer carbon emissions than conventional cold brew coffee while using 94% less water. No coffee plants also means no risk of deforestation. And those date seeds? They're upcycled, bringing value to what would otherwise be waste. (Atomo isn't the only brand turning date seeds into a coffee substitute: Daffee was created by Syrian inventor Rahaf al Lymoni, who uses seeds from organic farms in North Africa and sells her caffeine-free beverage in the Netherlands.)

Initially launched on Kickstarter in 2019, Atomo recently raised USD 45 million to scale up production and sales. Its improved and redesigned cold brews are available for preorder now, with a rollout to retailers expected later this year.

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Providing a familiar cold brew with a fraction of the CO2 emissions and water required to produce the conventional version, Atomo eases the growing tension people feel between enjoying the products they're accustomed to, and their awareness of each purchase's environmental cost.

Which innovative, future-proof solutions can your brand offer conflicted consumers?

Related: Making chocolate without cocoa (and its human and environmental costs)