Cow-sourced milk has gotten an increasingly bad wrap over the years. Concerns around animal welfare and environmental impacts – as well as new understanding around how dairy affects different bodies – have seen increasing numbers of people reaching for plant-based alternatives, only to be disappointed by watery, tasteless, overly sweet or unfrothable options.
Enter Eden Brew, an Australian startup dedicated to bringing us “an alternative option, without an alternative experience”. Launched in July 2021, the company is determined to tackle the nutritional, ethical and sensory gulf between milk alternatives and the real thing, with a lab “brewed” version it says can credibly mimic cow’s milk in every way – without triggering allergies or ethical concerns.
Supported by years of CSIRO research, the company says it can “produce the same proteins found in cow’s milk using precision fermentation, essentially enabling [it] to ‘brew’ milk”.
The pioneering technique, it says, is able to create casein micelles (the protein “cages” in cow’s milk responsible for its unique characteristics) without the cow. The result “will be animal-free dairy with a frothing, creamy, milky taste”, minus the lactose and cholesterol – and with a much lower allergen profile – but retaining dairy milk’s singular nutritional and sensory values.
“Every glass of cow’s milk has the perfect mix of proteins and nutrients to nourish us. We will be able to give consumers a new option by producing the same proteins that give our milk the same great qualities that we’re used to in our morning coffee and cereal. It has the same building blocks of cow’s milk, it’s just made in a different oven,” says Jim Fader, the company’s CEO.
And it’s not just our palates and immune systems Eden Brew wants to keep happy; even common plant-based alternatives can have significant environmental impacts when produced at scale. Not only that, traditional agriculture, whether animal or vegetable, is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events brought on by our changing climate.
Eden Brew says it will be joining an emerging army of companies dedicated to finding new ways to produce traditional animal-based protein options without sacrificing our health or the environment, and says its milk will offer a “solution that is environmentally sustainable and less resource-intensive”.
For now, Eden Brew is hunkering down with its partners, Norco (Australia’s largest dairy co-op) and the CSIRO’s deep-tech venture fund, Main Sequence, for a few final months of research and development before consumers will get a chance to put its product to the test. You should be able to add the futuristic fermentation to your coffee order by the end of the year.