Latte art, the process of creating designs in coffee by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso, used to be a difficult process only a few could master. Even with the right training however, every cup of coffee is different, which made it impractical to create uniform designs.
While 3D printing is commonly associated with manufacturing and prototyping, there’s a new startup out of Tel Aviv called Steam CC and they’re redefining the “printing” space. Their flagship product, the Ripple Maker uses patented printing technology to enable virtually any coffee shop, restaurant, or hospitality business to create latte art in a matter of seconds.
The device isn’t a full-featured coffee maker. Rather it’s a standalone device which makes the froth for your beverages using standard milk. The “ink” in this case is coffee bean extract; it’s completely safe to drink, doesn’t affect the taste or flavor of your coffee and doesn’t add any calories. The extract is apparently also kosher and contains no gluten or allergens, though the product FAQ says they don’t have an official Kashrut certificate.
The coffee extract pods make over 1,000 ripples each and are sold on a subscription rather than an a-la-carte model. The Ripple maker sends status updates to the manufacturer so pods are shipped automatically when you’re running low.
While the device doesn’t require much training, and could easily be set up in any location, the company positions the Ripple Maker for businesses and trained baristas. The device has a large LCD touchscreen and “customers” can even use the paired Ripples app in-store to create their own designs from a drawing, photo, or message. The app has a built in photo editor so users can crop, scale, filter, and add text to their images before sending it over WiFi to the “printer”.
The device also includes a content library grouped by themes, containing greetings, smart quotes, coffee humor, etc. The library is constantly updated in real-time from the cloud based database.
Right now the app only works on iOS devices however Android support is expected to be added in February 2016.
The Ripple Maker is currently available to businesses in the US and Canada, though there does appear to be a waiting list. Since the Ripple is an internet of things device (IoT) which uses location specific technology, it can only be activated in regions with the right infrastructure.
You can purchase a Ripple in the US for $1,299 along with a required service plan with starts at $85/month.
Steam CC raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Landa Ventures, a VC firm headed by Israeli 3D printing pioneer, Benny Landa.
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