Mar 15, 2017 | By Tess
Coffee connoisseurs will know that being able to make a truly excellent cup of joe at home can be difficult, with fancy espresso machines costing hundreds to thousands of dollars, and third wave techniques, like pour over coffee, requiring much time and detailed attention. A new coffee machine, developed by maker Jakub Svec with the help of 3D printing, is looking to change that reality, making high quality coffee easy and accessible. Called PERK, the product is being marketed as the first fully automated pour over coffee machine.
Before we get started on the product, let’s take a short tour through coffee’s recent history. Though coffee has been around since at least the 15th century, it took on a different significance in the 20th century. In the early 1900s, the “first wave” of coffee began, which was characterized by packaged coffee grounds and easy and affordable home brewing—think Folgers. Though home brewed filter and instant coffee have lasted to this day, the 1960s saw the “second wave” of coffee take hold, which, with the advent of coffee shops like Starbucks, put emphasis on espresso-based coffee drinks, as well as the social aspect of having a coffee.
Since the early 2000s, many coffee connoisseurs have moved onto the “third wave” of coffee, which considers the drink to be an artisanal food that requires knowledge, care, and fine attention to detail. The idea behind the third wave coffee is that it should taste so good and pure (not bitter like cheap filter or instant coffee) that it doesn’t require milk, sugar, or any additives. It was upon having his first cup of “third wave” pour over coffee that Jakub Svec became interested in the process behind the drink.
Jakub Svec, maker of the PERK coffee machine
As he learnt, making a perfect pour over coffee is no cup of tea, as it requires constant attention and specific conditions such as water temperature, size of grain, and pouring technique. Of course, for many this is part of the appeal of third wave coffee (that it requires time and attention), but Svec thought he could find a way to make it easier for those who want the taste of pour over but who don’t quite have the time.
After working on his coffee machine for over a year and a half, 3D printing many prototypes and parts as part of the process, Svec has finally created a marketable automated pour over coffee machine. Svec worked on PERK at MAKE Sante Fe, and credits much of his success to the community there.
He said: “Without access to the 3D printers at MAKE Santa Fe and the community for support, I don't think I would have had the courage to take on a project like PERK. A lot of great tools are being developed for CAD but 3D printing will always remain a part of my workflow. Although the practical application of virtual and augmented reality as a design tool is increasing, it will never replace the visceral impact that a 3D printer can produce."
PERK, which can fit nicely on your kitchen counter and is very reasonable in cost (retailing for $299), can make coffees that rival those of the top Third Wave coffee shops. Scott Rao, a known coffee expert, is even quoted as saying, “I have never seen a coffee machine this capable for less than $10,000.”
By combining a recirculating boiler and a nested infusion chamber, PERK is able to maintain accurate and controlled temperature for the brew, as well as extraction uniformity, which means that the coffee grains are distributed evenly and not clumping up as they brew. Essentially, the coffee machine is built to account for all the factors a barista would be tending to manually, just in an automated fashion.
A Kickstarter campaign for the PERK coffee machine is launching later today, and backers will be able to place their orders for the coffee maker for as low as $49 (an insider special rate). As mentioned, PERK is expected to retail for $299, but most Kickstarter backers can benefit from at least a $199 price point.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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