That’s a lot of beans. Or, lack of beans.
Seattle-based Atomo Coffee has raised $9 million in new funding to power its idea around molecular coffee that can be reverse engineered without the bean. The round announced Tuesday was co-led by Horizons Ventures and S2G Ventures and follows $2.6 million raised by the startup a year ago.
The money will be used to bring “the future of coffee” right to the doorstep of Starbucks, with a new Atomo production roastery just blocks away from the coffee giant’s headquarters south of downtown Seattle.
Driven by a desire to remove the bitter taste from coffee and answer to climate change and deforestation that is a threat to the global coffee industry, Atomo relies on science and technology to create coffee in a more sustainable way.
“Our flagship grounds formula is made of upcycled plant materials such as pits, seeds, and stems from locally grown agriculture, mirroring the process of traditional coffee beans” Jarret Stopforth, co-founder and chief scientist, said in a news release. “Atomo’s magic comes from our proprietary bioreactive and thermal processes.”
Upcycling is defined as the creation of foods “using ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment.”
Atomo’s 12,000-square-foot roastery — which scales the company way up from bench-top small batches made in its current lab — will produce Atomo’s “secret sauce”: molecular coffee concentrate for ready-to-drink beverages, as well as Atomo Grounds.
The plan is to come to market in 2021 and produce regional launches for specialty retailers, Atomo said.
The startup, which promised to “hack the coffee bean” when it got going with a Kickstarter in February 2019, was co-founded by Stopforth and Andy Kleitsch, a tech vet who once worked at Amazon among other places, and who leads entrepreneur workshops at the University of Washington.
“Seattle is the perfect confluence of tech and craft coffee, it only makes sense that coffee is reinvented here.” Kleitsch, who serves as CEO, said in a statement. “Our tech creates a great tasting cup of coffee, that provides consumers with a sustainable choice, as well as greater value for our farmers.”