Home Drinks Coffee Q&A with Jake Berber, co-founder and CEO of Prefer, Asia’s first bean-free...

Q&A with Jake Berber, co-founder and CEO of Prefer, Asia’s first bean-free coffee maker

We have a chance to speak to Jake Berber, co-founder and CEO of Prefer, the maker of Asia’s first bean-free coffee, at the recent FHA-Food & Beverage 2024 in Singapore. Here is what he has to say about Prefer and the future plans for the brand.

(left to right) Prefer is made up of Texan-born former neuroscientist Jake Berber and Singaporean food scientist Tan Ding Jie

Mini Me Insights: What gap in the market did Prefer aim to fill with its launch?

Jake: While coffee remains a beloved global beverage, its cultivation is threatened by climate change. At the same time, global demand is rising; this means coffee is getting more expensive and will continue to. We saw an opportunity to create a delicious and satisfying coffee experience without relying on traditional coffee beans. This approach addresses the growing demand for sustainable alternatives as climate change reaks havoc on the food and beverages we love.

What’s the story behind the name Prefer? How did it come to be?

Prefer is short for “precision fermentation,” the technology that we used when we began the company. In addition, we hope Prefer instills a feeling of preference for our product. It’s a subtle nudge towards a delicious, affordable, and sustainable option.

Can you tell us the ingredients in Prefer and where those ingredients come from?

Prefer’s bean-free coffee leverages a unique blend of upcycled ingredients. These include day-old bread from Gardenia, soy pulp from Mr. Bean, and spent barley grains from local breweries.

Which Prefer-branded products are available and where can I buy them?

Currently, Prefer’s provides coffee grounds, bottled lattes, and coffee concentrates served in cafes, bars, retailers, and e-commerce in Singapore. We are actively expanding our distribution network and exploring the possibility of retailing in supermarkets For the most up-to-date information on availability, please visit our website at [prefer.coffee].

Are there any exciting developments or new directions planned for Prefer?

Yup! Our expertise in bioflavors extends far beyond coffee. We plan to research and develop sustainable alternatives for other climate-threatened flavor profiles, such as cocoa, vanilla, and citrus. This expansion into a broader range of bioflavors signifies our commitment to building a more resilient and environmentally friendly food system.

What is Prefer’s current funding status, and how are the allocated funds being used? Are there any anticipated needs for further investment in the future?

Prefer is fortunate to have secured US$2 million, led by Forge Ventures. These funds are being strategically allocated to fuel research and development of our bioflavors technology, expand production capacity, and establish key partnerships within the food and beverage industry. As we pursue our ambitious growth plans, we anticipate the need for further investment in the future. We are confident that our innovative approach and commitment to sustainability will attract future investors who share our vision.

Can you describe Prefer’s ultimate business model – will it focus on retail sales or B2B partnerships?

Prefer envisions a business model that leverages B2B partnerships with the biggest F&B companies in the world seeking more affordable and sustainable flavours and ingredients. In the nearer future, however, we plan to expand our online presence and explore retail opportunities to make our products more readily available to consumers. However, building strong B2B relationships remains a core focus. We see immense potential in collaborating with cafes, restaurants, food service providers, and even other food and beverage companies to integrate our products into a wider range of products. This combined approach will allow us to maximize our impact and accelerate the adoption of sustainable food and beverages.

 Prefer ready-to-drink is now available

Click here to buy Prefer Oat Latte (Decaffeinated) and Prefer Oat Latte (Caffeinated) from its official online store in Singapore.

Prefer Oat Latte (Decaffeinated)

Ingredients: Water, Oat Milk, Bean-Free Coffee (Soy, Barley, Bread, Maize, Quinoa), Caramel

Prefer Oat Latte (Caffeinated

Ingredients: Water, Oat Milk, Bean-Free Coffee (Soy, Barley, Bread, Maize, Quinoa, Caffeine), Caramel


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