Espresso… in space!

June 19th, 2014

Appliance News Coffee Machines & Accessories Humour

There’s a new Italian coffee machine which makes espresso that’s literally “out of this world”.  And we’re not kidding – the machine has been developed specifically for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)!

isspressoimage source: Huffington Post

Commissioned by the Italian Space agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), the coffee machine known as the ISSpresso (groan) was designed in a collaboration between the aerospace engineers at Argotec and the espresso experts at Lavazza.

How does the ISSpresso work?

Weighing in at 20kg (good thing it’ll soon be weightless!) the ISSpresso has been precisely engineered to handle the complex and high-pressure process of preparing espresso while minimising the risk of accidents in the extreme conditions of space, where slight miscalculations can have explosive consequences.

isspresso diagramimage source: Wired

For example, where a typical espresso machine would use a plastic tube, the ISSpresso uses a steel tube rated to handle up to 400-BAR of steam pressure – keep in mind that it only take 9-BAR pressure to make an espresso!  And as loose coffee beans or grounds would be disastrously messy in zero gravity, the ISSpresso uses a capsule-based system similar to the Nespresso style to prepare its drinks.

Don’t think that the machine is just for coffee-lovers, either – the system can also be used to prepare packets of dehydrated food such as broths and soups!

Why was the ISSpresso created?

It gets lonely up in space, and it’s important for astronauts to enjoy a few creature comforts to help keep spirits up.   Astronauts currently drink coffee in space (remember Don Petit’s zero gravity coffee cup?), but it’s the powdered instant stuff that not everyone can appreciate.

By sending up the ISSpresso, the Italian Space Agency hopes to create a “corner café” mood aboard the sometimes claustrophobic environment of the ISS, allowing astronauts of all nations to relax and bond over a cup of the good stuff.

How will the ISSpresso taste?

But how will it taste?  Well, as we’ve previously explored, food tastes a bit different in space due to the way zero gravity plays with an astronaut’s ears, nose and throat, but the ISSpresso’s coffee should still have an intense espresso flavour.

Don’t worry too much about the fact that much of the water aboard the ISS is made from recycled human urine – it’s filtered, clean, and the astronauts are used to it, so the coffee they make using the stuff should be just fine.

Can I try the ISSpresso?

Unless you’re going into space in the next 12 months or so, probably not.

Samantha Cristoforetti coffeesource: AstroSamantha

The honour of enjoying the first Italian espresso in space will go to Air Force Captain Samantha Cristoforetti, who will also be the first Italian woman in space, when she and the ISSpresso launch to the ISS aboard the Futura mission in November 2014.

Samantha Cristoforetti

But for those of us stuck on terra-firma wanting to enjoy an “out of this world” coffee experience, fear not – there are plenty of coffee machines available at Appliances OnlineContact our expert team if you need any help making a choice, and learn more about how to get the most from your machine with the help of our handy videos:

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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