In a technical, scientific, industrial society there comes a point when anything can be made by synthetic or artificial means, removing the original source material. It is easy to overlook this, because it has already happened in the here and now without our notice. Cola flavoring wasn't an artificial melange from the beginning, it was extracted from the khola nut, a plant native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Fast forward a few decades and khola is cola, there's no more cocaine extract, and a beverage once made from tree extracts is a slurry of man-made dyes, synthetic flavors, and artificial sweeteners.
As climate changes and war wracked the globe through the Resource Wars and Second Dark age, there were certain things that people desired but were cut off from. Coffee, tea, and cacao are all tropical tree products, and the places were such things had previously been grown were suffering from desertification, incessant civil wars, raging wildfires, or were caught up between druglords making room for cocaine plants and the agencies invested in defoliation bombing campaigns against them.
CAFFA and the Coffee Shop
The root of Cava would come from CAFFA, a synthetic caffeine substitute that didn't come from coffee producers but energy drink manufacturers. That particular industry had been born from the unwanted congealed lumps of caffeine left over from making decaf coffee, turning a waste product into glassy eyed stares and hand tremors. As the international coffee trade failed, they didn't have access to caffeine waste, so they did their chemistry homework and concocted CAFFA, a fully synthetic caffeine and used it in their energy drinks. Being jacked up on synth juice, they were ahead of the curve, and the energy drink market boomed when coffee all but collapsed.
Their biggest product, a faux coffee laced with heart dangerous levels of CAFFA.
The big breakthrough came when a struggling coffee corp took what they had left and invested it in making artificial coffee. They created a viable substrate, from ground plant matter, impregnated it with CAFFA, artifical flavors, and other taste triggers, creating the first Cava. The material was handled exactly like coffee had, save it came ground. The same machines processed it, and the baristas made the same drinks from it. The initial reception was luke-warm. Cava tastes similar to coffee, it doesn't taste like it.
Money made the final choice, as the average consumer was looking at spending close to $20 for a cup of plain back coffee, and a triple espresso fuzzy mochaccino would cost closer to $50. A cup of hot Cava was fifty cents. A cava espresso, a buck, and a crazy insta-worthy cava based beverage would be a few dollars at most. Real coffee became a luxury, suddenly in the same rarified atmosphere as caviar and black truffles.
CAFFA wasn't done. The success of Cava showed consumer manufacturers a path forward to replace other increasingly expensive and high demand goods. The next to fall to the Frankensteinian molecule would be chocolate.
Dark Age chocolates are considered to be some of the worst products ever made. The amount of cocoa solids decreased, access to cocoa butter and other products faded so swaps were attempted, with some chocolates not legally being food products since they were made with stabilized and hydrogenated petroleum products. It reached it's peak with a product called ChocoNot which killed close to three hundred people, several thousand cases of persistent organ failure, and a class action lawsuit large enough that the CEO in charge of the product opted to blow his brains out rather than be brought into custody.
CAFFA based Cavalote products were launched, replacing the coffee flavorings with artificial vanilla and chocolate aromatics and an animal fat derived 'butter'. The results were similar to the initial launch of Cava, but the Caffa bars slowly gained ground as no one who ate them died, suffered acute kidney or liver failure, or intestine and bowel cancer. Another thing that boosted Caffa bars was their inclusion in military meal kits, and food aid services such as food banks and emergency relief efforts.
Chocolate joined Coffee as an ultimate luxury, something only the wealthiest could afford, or something that remained a rare treat for everyone else.
Caffa was a first world product, and readily available across North America, Europe, and other continents that would come together to form the Atlantic Federation, Pacific Rim Coalition, and Eurasian Alliance. The substance had made its way into coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, and a few other products, gaining market dominance easily. The final resistance came from tea. Long favored in India, China, and all the remnants of the British Empire, it seemed that it couldn't be overtaken by Caffa.
Until it was.
Caffa didn't replace all tea, but it did quickly replace traditional black and orange teas. Green and white teas were considered a niche enough market, and restaurants didn't have an established trade in pouring gallons of white or green to buffet goers. The hot teas came after the replacement of mass produced iced teas, and the tea culture yielded ground slowly. They did eventually, grudgingly, accept caffa based tea, especially once herbal and floral additives were rounded out.
Cuppa became the ambassador brand of fake tea, adopting all the trapping of Pax Britiannia, and mock pompousness.
CAFFA - synthetic caffeine
Caffa - the family of products made with CAFFA to replace their natural sources
Cava - Caffa Coffee
Cuppa - Caffa Tea
Cavalote and Cavcoa - Caffa chocolate and cocoaAuthor's Final note
Some of these things are already happening. Hot teas are popular, but increasingly they are not just tea, they are filled out with other plant materials. Fast food restaurants swill out iced tea at a massive rate, and eventually cost and time requirements aren't going to allow them to brew it, and it will become a syrup or similar product dispensed like water or carbonated beverages. I suspect that McDonalds has already done this. Everything is going to become artificial, because the real deal is too time intensive, too expensive to source, and the demand for profit margins doesn't include any financial incentives to keep the places in the world where some things grow green, and the products sustainable.
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? Responses (4)
I didn't read a submission, I read the future!!!
I appreciated your author's notes. And there is enough evidence that the small band of area that chocolate and coffee is grown will soon enough not sustain our need and so this is bound to happen in some way. Even beyond nutella.
So, I read Strolens comment before reading the sub...
this is both awesome and depressing af. Many kudos. Amazing read.
There’s a truth in this article. And it’s depressing.
Nice projection of a current phenomenon into the future. As an, aside I and my militant nutritionist kiddos refuse all that replacement material and eat pure ingredients only.