Founders of Prefer, bean-free coffee

SINGAPORE: Singapore-based bean-free coffee startup Prefer raised S$2.68 million (US$2 million) in its seed funding round, as reported by Singapore Business Review.

Utilising its proprietary fermentation technology, Prefer upcycles soy pulp, surplus bread, and spent grain to craft a coffee substitute that mirrors conventional coffee’s taste, aroma, and brewing experience. This breakthrough offers a sustainable solution and aligns with the growing demand for eco-friendly products in the market.

Prefer, bean-free coffee
Photo: Screengrab from Prefer

 The investment, spearheaded by Forge Ventures, saw participation from prominent investors, including 500 Global and SEEDS Capital, A*ccelerate, Sopoong Ventures, Better Bite Ventures, Entrepreneur First, and Pickup Coffee.

Led by food scientist Tan Ding Jie and co-founder Jake Berber, Prefer is on a mission to revolutionise the coffee industry with its “bean-free” approach, The Edge Singapore reports.

Founded in 2022, the startup addresses the challenges posed by climate change on traditional coffee bean farming by introducing a bean-free alternative.

Prefer caters primarily to business-to-business (B2B) customers, supplying ground coffee compatible with standard espresso machines to cafes, coffee chains, distributors, and flavour houses.

Additionally, the startup offers ready-to-drink bottled coffee, catering to quick-service food businesses, retail outlets, and events.

One of the standout features of Prefer‘s coffee is its adjustable caffeine level, allowing businesses to tailor their beverage to suit their preferences.

Moreover, the startup claims to significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to traditional coffee bean production, making it an environmentally responsible choice for businesses.

According to Prefer, the recent funding will fuel its expansion efforts across the Asia-Pacific region, starting with markets like Singapore and the Philippines.

With a focus on scaling up production capacity, the startup aims to meet the growing demand for its innovative coffee products.

Vishal Harnal, managing partner at 500 Global and one of the investors of the seed funding round, expressed confidence in Prefer’s vision, stating:

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