Coffee lovers have been known to go to some impressive extremes for a cup o’ joe and there are a million tools, gadgets, and gizmos to help you brew the perfect beverage. But here’s a concept that will raise eyebrows of even the most dedicated java enthusiast: coffee beans that are shot hundreds of miles into the air and are roasted by the heat of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
The Space Roasters are a pair of space-loving coffee nerds who wanted to create a form of space outreach that incorporated coffee. “We wanted to connect people to space, to be inspired and motivated by experiencing a product produced by space first-hand,” co-founders Anders Cavallini and Hatem Alkhafaji told Room magazine. They point to products like freeze-dried food and super-insulating blankets as examples of technologies which were first developed for space and which have since become commonplace, showing how space developments are important on Earth too.
Their plan is to launch a special bean-roasting capsule to a suborbital altitude of around 112 miles using a rocket, then to allow the bean-filled payload to fall to Earth. The descent will expose the capsule to the searing heat caused by the friction of the atmosphere, and the heat will be distributed across the capsule and funneled into four roasting chambers. The chambers should reach a toasty 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit) and the low gravity experienced at the highest points of the capsule’s journey should allow the beans to be roasted evenly all over.
Of course, the beans need to be collected once they are roasted, so the pair have designed a payload recovery system that consists of parachutes and retro thrusters which will be deployed once the capsule reaches 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Earth’s surface.
The Space Roasters say they have designed their capsule and are “working to secure funding for development of its patented technology,” including discussion will companies like Rocket Lab and Blue Origin to find a provider for a launch vehicle.
If you’re wanting to taste that sweet space coffee, you might want to start saving up now. Ars Technica estimates that based on the expenses, “space coffee is likely to cost $ 500 a cup.”