Singapore-based Prefer’s bean-free coffee has raised a $2 million seed round to secure global coffee supply.

The firm said in a statement on Thursday that Forge Ventures led the round with participation from 500 Global, A*ccelerate, Better Bite Ventures, Sopoong Ventures, SEEDS Capital, Entrepreneur First and Pickup Coffee.

According to the statement, the strategic raise allows Prefer to make significant investments in growing the capacity of its production facility, expanding its ground coffee and ready-to-drink bottled beverages across Asia-Pacific, starting with Singapore and the Philippines.

It is noted that Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages which is being threatened by climate change.

It is forecasted that by 2050, 50 percent of coffee farmland will no longer be suitable for use.

“Our mission is to future-proof coffee from the impacts of climate change; we plan to create delicious, affordable, and sustainable coffee, forever,

“Today, we start as a climate-friendly option on the menu. But, as climate change erodes coffee farmlands, erratic weather puts crops at risk, and demand continues to rise, coffee bean prices will skyrocket,” said Jake Berber, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Prefer.

“That’s where Prefer comes in to ensure the production and price of coffee becomes sustainable and stable in the long-run,

“We believe Prefer is the next-generation of the commodity we know as coffee today,” he added.

Ding Jie Tan, Co-Founder and Chief Technology of Prefer, said that fermentation is as old as human civilization and has been historically used to craft flavors, preserve ingredients as well as enhance nutrition content in foods.

“Through Prefer, we want to further its conventional use by leveraging cutting-edge science to create a line of sustainable flavors that’s accessible to everyone while conserving the environment,” he added.

According to the statement, Prefer’s proprietary fermentation technology upcycles surplus bread, soy pulp, and spent grain to create a coffee substitute that offers the same aroma, taste, and brewing experience as traditional coffee.

The company provides ground coffee compatible with standard espresso machines to their business-to-business (B2B) customers, including cafes, coffee chains, distributors,
and flavor houses, who seek a more affordable and sustainable coffee supply.

The firm also offers ready-to-drink bottled coffee for quick-service food businesses, events, and retail shelves.

For brands with sustainability goals, Prefer helps them slash their carbon footprint.

While a full lifecycle analysis is required to measure carbon footprint accurately, the firm produces an estimated 10x less carbon dioxide than traditional coffee beans, making it a beacon for a more sustainable coffee industry.

It is noted that the caffeine level of Prefer is highly tunable, offering the ability to design caffeine levels based on their customers’ needs.

It is also noted that Cafes in Singapore have already started offering Prefer on their menu as the default decaffeinated coffee; others plan to offer a cuppa with twice the caffeine content of traditional coffee.

Prefer is available at 12 locations across Singapore, including 2023 Barista Championships winner Dough, Foreword Coffee Roasters, and select SaladStop! outlets.

Household name partnerships are brewing and will be announced in 2024, according to the statement.

“Forge Ventures is thrilled to lead the investment in Prefer, an innovative force in foodtech and food and beverage (F&B),” said Tiang Lim Foo, Co-founder and Partner at Forge Venture.

“With a commitment to revolutionizing the coffee industry by offering affordable and sustainable bean-free coffee, Prefer embodies the spirit of forward-thinking entrepreneurship we actively seek to support,

“We are excited that Prefer’s vision will pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future not only in Singapore, but globally,” he added.

Vishal Harnal, Managing Partner at 500 Global said that climate change is steadily eroding the land needed to produce food ingrained in our diet and culture.

“Prefer’s novel fermentation technology is tackling this challenge by seeking to enable us to recreate many of the foods and flavors we take for granted, starting with coffee,” he added.

Diego Lorenzo, Co-Founder of Pickup Coffee, said Pickup Coffee is one of the fastest-growing coffee brands in Southeast Asia.

“We view partnering with and investing in Prefer as a key part of both our growth and future-proofing plans,

“We’re excited about the potential for Prefer’s bean-free coffee to give Pickup new and exciting sustainable offerings,” he added.

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