3-2-1 Blast Off: The First Coffee Machine Made for Space
Monday mornings are about to get a bit more civilized aboard the International Space Station as the 119-year-old espresso company Lavazza launches the world’s first space-approved coffee machine. Soon astronauts will be able to enjoy a freshly pulled doppio espresso from the ISSpresso, the first espresso machine made to handle zero gravity.
When astronauts were asked what they are most homesick for, coffee came up again and again. So Lavazza teamed up with Italian engineering firm Argotec to create a machine that would make life for the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts a whole lot better.
According to Collect Space, “all beverages currently flown to the station, including fruit drinks, tea and coffee, are dry powders packaged in Capri-Sun-like foil pouches. On orbit, the astronauts add water — recycled from the crew’s urine and other waste water — to the drinks and then insert a clamped straw to avoid the liquid from floating out.” Gross. What a luxury fresh espresso will be for those astronauts!
Unlike regular espresso machines that use plastic tubing, the ISSpresso uses metal tubes to ensure that the coffee is safely delivered to a pouch, which the astronauts will drink out of with a straw. But it’s not as easy peasy as it sounds. The machine is actually extremely complex. There are backup pieces for all critical components and the machine itself weighs over 40 pounds. Don’t feel like an espresso? The machine will be able to make caffè lungo or hot beverages, such as tea, infusions and broth, so that food can be rehydrated.
Giueseppe Lavazza (VP of Lavazza) adds that unlike the so-called Joe the ISS astronauts have been sipping, the ISSpresso will deliver “a real coffee — good, hot and steaming.” But how does it really taste? Well, the flavor is dulled because it’s impossible to smell the coffee while it’s being brewed, but on the plus side, the espresso does at least pack an intense flavor even without smell, so it’ll be better than instant coffee.
Just like your favorite local coffee hang, the ISSpresso is intended to be a “corner cafe,” where astronauts can socialize and relax — an important aspect of life considering the missions keep them away from home for long periods of time and in very challenging circumstances. The ISSpresso is still being tested, but if all goes well, Samantha Cristoforetti will deliver the machine to the ISS in November, making her the first Italian woman in space! And since she’ll be bringing coffee, we’re willing to bet she’ll make friends quickly.
Do you think extraterrestrial coffee is extravagant or brilliant? Let us know in the comments below!