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Prefer's Beanless Coffee: Brewing a Sustainable Future in Southeast Asia

Courtesy of Prefer - co-founders Jake Berber and Tan Ding Jie
Courtesy of Prefer - co-founders Jake Berber and Tan Ding Jie

Singapore-based beanless coffee startup Prefer has recently secured $2 million in seed funding, marking a pivotal moment for the company co-founded by Jake Berber and Tan Ding Jie in 2022. This infusion of capital paves the way for Prefer to scale its operations, including the establishment of a new manufacturing facility and an ambitious plan to broaden its product distribution across Southeast Asia, beginning with the Philippines.


Prefer is at the forefront of a revolutionary approach to coffee production, employing a unique fermentation technique to transform soy pulp, leftover bread, and spent grain into high-quality beanless coffee. This innovative method not only presents a sustainable alternative to conventional coffee but also capitalizes on byproducts from local businesses, including partnerships with prominent companies like Gardenia and Mr Bean.


The startup's product portfolio is designed to cater to a diverse range of consumer preferences and market needs. For the B2B sector, Prefer offers a packaged ground coffee product compatible with standard espresso machines, targeting specialty coffee shops such as Dough and Foreword Coffee Roasters. On the consumer front, Prefer has launched a ready-to-drink (RTD) product aimed at quick-service restaurants, with further plans to penetrate supermarket shelves in the second quarter of 2024.


The recent seed funding round, led by Forge Ventures and featuring contributions from entities including Pickup Coffee, a coffee chain based in Makati City, signifies a strong vote of confidence in Prefer's business model and its potential to disrupt the coffee industry. The capital will be instrumental in transitioning Prefer to a larger production facility, increasing its capacity to meet surging demand, and exploring opportunities for international distribution.


Central to Prefer's mission is the conviction that its fermentation-based, beanless coffee represents a viable, sustainable, and adaptable alternative to traditional coffee. This is especially pertinent given the escalating prices and environmental challenges plaguing conventional coffee farming. Moreover, Prefer's capability to customize caffeine levels in its products allows for a personalized coffee experience, catering to individual consumer preferences.


As of now, Prefer's innovative coffee products are available in 12 locations throughout Singapore, with strategic plans in place for expansion into supermarkets and the exploration of potential partnerships to enhance its market presence and accessibility.


The emergence and expansion of Prefer within the coffee industry mirror a broader, global interest in beanless coffee solutions. This trend highlights a collective effort to address the challenges of climate change and the growing demand for sustainable food production methods. Prefer's success in securing seed funding and its strategic plans for expansion not only underscores the viability of its business model but also reflects a significant step towards a more sustainable and innovative future in the beverage industry.

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