Science & Technology

Out-of-this-world coffee? Company generates buzz with plan to roast beans using heat from reentry

Perhaps you’ve heard someone refer to a strong cup of coffee as “rocket fuel.” That terminology could have especially fun relevance for a company called Space Roasters, which wants to use space technology to roast coffee beans.

A new story in Ars Technica points to a previous Room magazine interview, which describes the out-of-this-world plan to harness heat from a capsule’s reentry through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Space Roasters founders Hatem Alkhafaji and Anders Cavallini said they would rely on their patented “space roasting capsule (shown here and in the graphic below) which is comprised of four cylinders holding 75kg of coffee beans each. The heat from re-entry would evenly roast the beans as they float in zero gravity, and the capsule would then be recovered after a parachute landing.

“Coffee has been roasted the same way for centuries now, and as space science has improved many technologies, we believe it is time to revolutionize coffee roasting using space technology,” the founders said in the Room interview.

While there’s no price attached to “space coffee” yet — a pre-sale campaign is coming — Ars Technica’s Eric Berger did his own calculations based on costs associated with certain launch vehicles, such as Rocket Lab’s Electron booster which will cost $6 million per suborbital launch. Berger figured 300kg of roasted beans at a cost of $20,000 per kg ends up percolating down to about $200 per cup of coffee — before other expenses jack that price up.

Read the Ars Technica piece to get a better idea of the plan and the pricing — if you’re looking for a jolt. And here’s to hoping there’s enough marketing money left over to sign up astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

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