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ISS Space Build

How To Make Espresso In Space 192

Posted by timothy
from the they-finally-saw-airplane-II dept.
In a story that's sure to bring to the surface the long-debunked myth of an over-elaborate NASA quest to create a pen to operate in space, Wired reports that the coffee situation aboard the International Space Station is about to improve: the station will be getting a 20kg, custom designed Lavazza espresso machine, to be delivered along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Among other differences from terrestrial espresso machines: the resulting beverage must be pumped into a straw-friendly bag rather than a demitasse. I wonder if there could be some way to adapt a (much lighter) Aeropress for space purposes, as a backup.
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How To Make Espresso In Space

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  • by NF6X (725054) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @07:49PM (#47242777) Homepage
    Now I want a machine that can make an iced latte in zero G.
    • by quenda (644621) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:21PM (#47242903)

      Last I heard, it cost around $20k/kg to lift cargo to orbit. Add in the extra weight of beans vs instant, and the world will finally see (albeit from a distance) coffee even more overpriced than Starbucks'.

      • by TWX (665546)
        Between the price of the coffee and the price and complexity of the machines I thought that modern coffee shops were an example of the technological developments of the space program working their way back into terrestrial use...
        • by Cryacin (657549) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:36PM (#47242957)
          You use approximately 20g of coffee beans to make a shot. Thus, you are talking $400 per shot. And for this delivery price, you are serving Lavazza?!?
          • by TWX (665546)
            Well, things do become somewhat less expensive when their tech developments no longer involve actually going to space...
          • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @09:28PM (#47243145) Homepage Journal

            The machine is a Lavazza. One would hope the beans are something else.

          • by jonwil (467024)

            The astronaut going into space is an Italian. One would assume he would have advised the relavent space agencies on how to select the best coffee to send up there.

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              well the italian aspect certainly explains why they would spend the 20kg on a coffee machine.

              and it's a capsule machine. but it has pipes that could withstand 400 bar of pressure. Why? I haven't got the slightest clue. but that still doesn't explain the weight. for the dimensions the frame has to be half inch steel or some shit like that(they actually claim its for some backup system, the weight, I don't know if it has some fluid suckup machine or something in case it leaks).

              on the other hand, since the cap

              • by gstoddart (321705)

                but it has pipes that could withstand 400 bar of pressure. Why? I haven't got the slightest clue

                My espresso machine is rated for 15 bar and probably weighs 2-3 kilos or so since it's made of heavy steel. 9 bar is pretty much the minimum to make espresso and actually get crema.

                I assume it's been heavily over-engineered because having your espresso machine malfunction in space would make a horrible mess. If my espresso machine leaks, it dumps water and grounds on my counter -- in space, it would be worse e

          • by dbIII (701233)
            If they sponsored any of the process then it's a bit rude to use something else.
          • 20g of coffee? What kind of rocket fuel are you making? It's normally 7g of coffee per shot. I'm not sure a triple-shot would be the best thing for a bunch of 'nauts in a tin can.
      • Where did you get the $20k price? I am finding $60-$80k/kg.
      • by NF6X (725054) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @09:03PM (#47243053) Homepage
        I'm talking lattes here wait until you see the bill for lifting the cow into space!
      • You're right (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The feds should have spent that blowing up more civilians and occupying places that don't want us there. Over $5 trillion wasted, and Iraq is about to fall again. Fuck, I'll take coffee in space any day of the week over what that stuff is usually spent on.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          Agreed, it would be a better use of our money generally if they were working on a way to deliver coffee to individuals via orbital drops than some of the other things they waste it on.

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:08PM (#47242845)

    I wonder if they will sell them special space-rated coffee beans at highly enflated prices in order to move any profits back to tax havens?

    (See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/targ... [ukuncut.org.uk] if you miss the joke)

    • Well, at least that ISS coffee's price will have some kind of justification. If you want to see coffee that works like printer ink (from the price model as well as the taste), check out this [wikipedia.org].

    • Thank you for being the humorless prick who diverts an interesting discussion back to the same old political points. We just don't get enough of that at Slashdot and your post has really enhanced the discussion here.
  • Short black with one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aXis100 (690904) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:11PM (#47242863)

    How do they add sugar!!!

    Look, I love coffee as much as the next guy but when they are replacing 20kg of scientific payload with a 20kg coffee machine (plus the pods and waste management), they might have their priorities a little skewed. If they'd spent the money on produging a better freeze dried espresso, all of humanity could benefit.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      but when they are replacing 20kg of scientific payload

      I think they have spare capacity by now (but of course it does mean extra fuel).

    • by Ihlosi (895663) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:05AM (#47245051)
      Look, I love coffee as much as the next guy but when they are replacing 20kg of scientific payload

      Coffee is scientific payload. You don't want your experiments to fail because the involved researchers were under-caffeinated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:28PM (#47242931)

    " to be delivered along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti " it requires a barista?

  • For some reason, I find the idea of having a shot of real, hot espresso in space heartwarming.

    A little bit of home, when you're up so very high above it..

  • Air pressure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626)

    They would have to boil the water in a pressurized container

    You can't even get a good cup of tea or coffee on Mt Everest, let alone in space.

  • by Swordfish (86310) on Monday June 16, 2014 @01:05AM (#47243771) Homepage
    One way to get around the difficulties with zero gravity for eating would be to install a "hamster wheel" inside the space station which would give at least the Moon's level of gravity, i.e. about a sixth of Earth's gravity, or the surface gravity of Mars, which is about 38% of Earth's [wikipedia.org]. Of course, this would disturb zero-gravity experiments due to the inevitable "gravity noise" from the hamster wheel, but some sort of isolation mechanism could be introduced. After all, whenever astronauts move around, they are introducing "gravity noise" into zero-gravity experiments. So it can't be that bad. And the hamster wheel could be helpful with gyroscopic stabilization. Within the hamster wheel, astronauts could eat normal Earth food, and do other things for which gravity would assist.
  • Normally when you pull a shot of coffee it comes out as a very liquidy foam and then it separates out to give you the crema (head) on top - a dark brown foam about 5mm thick.
    In microgravity, this wouldn't separate out so the espresso would be a homogeneous dark brown foam throughout rather than the espresso we see down here on earth. I wonder what it'd be like.
    • by gnu-sucks (561404)

      I was just wondering the same thing.

      Bet it taste pretty good actually.

      (Good luck getting fresh coffee beans)

  • It's now in a bag add a needle for delivery and this coders dream is a reality
  • I don't know about in space, but here on Earth, I work at a NASA center and we have one of the best "underground" espresso clubs I have ever seen. Very sophisticated engineering techniques have been applied -- our machine gets serviced in the NASA machine shop sometimes.

    You should see that place near launch deadlines. Poor grinder never gets a break!

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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