Northern Wonder

Meet the team – Mariana, Hanna and Rapha!

Northern Wonder   coffee free coffee

Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities and is the most consumed beverage after water. The global coffee market is worth a staggering 102$ Billion. But how environmentally sustainable is your daily cup of coffee?

Coffee is grown on Coffea trees in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. The trees have very strict growing constraints which makes coffee cultivation highly climate-inadaptable. Indeed, it is forecast that a large percentage (approx. 60%) of current land suitable for coffee cultivation will become unsuitable in the coming decades. Simultaneously, the global demand for coffee is estimated to increase two- or three-fold by 2050; but where will this new coffee come from? It is expected that the new coffee demand will be met by an increase in land used for coffee cultivation which opens the possibility for coffee-driven deforestation. For example, coffee growing is expected to rise up mountain-sides invading untouched tropical forests causing deforestation and biodiversity loss. On the other hand, certain “shaded” methods of cultivating coffee in agroforestry systems, where the rainforest is left in-tact, could be considered protective against deforestation. Thus, we aim to investigate the complex problem of whether coffee could be considered a driver of deforestation.

The journey from the coffee cherry picked straight from a tree in the tropics to a cup of coffee as we know it is long and energy-intense. We aim to investigate the CO2  footprint of coffee’s life cycle and identify major environmental hurdles in this process – for example, use of fertilizers, transport across the world and different coffee processing steps.

Our client, Northern Wonder, is developing a novel, indistinguishable coffee-alternative from non-tropical ingredients in collaboration with the University of Wageningen and leading food technology partners. Drawing on our research, we aim to assess whether this novel non-tropical product could offer a more environmentally sustainable alternative to coffee in terms of deforestation and CO2 footprints.