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California Cultured
Lab-grown chocolate, lab-grade flavors and nutrition
Funding to Date*
* Data source: Crunchbase
Alan Perlstein, CEO
When you’re looking for the world’s best chocolate, it’s no longer just about taste. It’s about where it comes from, and doesn’t.
From West Africa to Peru, surging chocolate production has become a major driver of deforestation. Onto those lands come underpaid paid small farmers, or child labor which is not paid at all.

Around a decade ago, cocoa bean cells were cultured in giant, 20,000 liter bioreactors – it worked, except for one little problem. To get the cells to grow, they had to use the main toxic ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp.

California Cultured has solved that issue by enticing cocoa cells to grow with stimulation by food ingredients you’d find in any grocery store. Second-time founder Alan Perlstein (Joywell Foods) leads this team, which is going to market rapidly with a D2C subscription model.

The benefits extend beyond social impact. California Cultured’s cocoa cells are less bitter, which helps human health. This is important because conventional chocolate can be 50% sugar to counteract cocoa’s bitterness. California Cultured is aiming to reduce sugar content 10x.