Last updated August 10th 2015
In the past, only the most skillful of baristas held the power to transform an everyday latte into an artistic masterpiece. But now, an Israeli device called The Ripple Maker is bringing latte art to a whole new level, even for the simplest of coffee drinkers. Soon, your cappuccino could be covered with 3D-printed froth featuring hundreds of stunning designs and cartoons.
The innovative coffee technology called “coffee ripples”, made by Israeli startup Steam CC, allows users to print complex designs atop their drinks, such as photographs taken from their cellphone cameras or even personal phrases like “Happy Birthday” – within seconds!
The device works by combining 3D printing mechanics with an ink jet-like system that prints out a natural coffee extract, known as ripple pods. The machine then injects the printed material into the foam that tops a cup of coffee. Simply put, the coffee extract functions as the paint and the milk froth is the canvas.
The startup behind the foam printer, Steam CC, was founded by CEO Yossi Meshulam almost two years ago. Since then, his team has been developing and testing out the machine in both Tel Aviv and New York. The company received an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Landa Ventures, a venture capital firm run by Israeli 3D printing pioneer Benny Landa.
Customized latte at your fingertip
To create the caffeinated artwork, the barista selects a design among the hundreds available on the Ripple Maker’s content library. If the customer wants a more customized topping, such as a phrase or a personal photograph, then they can even submit their own image from their camera through a Wi-Fi network. Once the image is selected, it can then be edited, scaled, and filtered – no pun intended.
In the coming months, the company will launch a mobile app, thorough which users will be able to upload images to its printing library.
One the highlights of the machine, in addition to its artistic capabilities, is its speed. “The entire operation takes about ten seconds. To make a proper cup of coffee takes at least one to two minutes, so the extra few seconds the Ripple Maker requires is negligible,” Meshulam told The Times of Israel.
While the device has yet to officially hit the market for household use, the startup has already managed to capture mass international attention. In July, the firm entered an agreement with the major German airline Lufthansa, which will use the machine to prepare coffee for travelers in first-class and business lounges. And, according to Meshulam, the company expects to sign similar agreements in the coming months.
“Making a ripple on the world”
“Latte art is one the most shared images on social media,” Meshulam said in a statement. “When you put something beautiful in someone’s hands, they want to share it. That’s how we’re making a ripple on the world.”
Starting this September, the Ripple Maker will be shipped to customers in the US for $999 with a monthly service fee of $75, intended to cover maintenance costs, subscription to the design library, and pods.
So, enjoy your artsy cup of coffee! Well, at least until you stir in the froth…
Photos and video courtesy of Steam CC