Every beverage we drink is mostly water. Beer, soda, juice, coffee, tea – all are at least 90% water, plus a little sugar, alcohol or flavor compounds.
Scientists at a Californian company Cana Inc. have figured out how to identify and isolate those molecules that drive flavor and aroma to recreate thousands of drinks – without moving bottles filled mostly with water around the world.
Cana rebuilds each beverage at the molecular level using hundreds of ingredients — all within a single ingredients cartridge. The sugar and spirits cartridges complete the system, and all are automatically shipped to consumers.
Cana says it is the world’s first molecular beverage printer that combines all-natural ingredients with novel technologies that dispense compounds at the milliliter level of accuracy. The result is an infinite variety of chilled and carbonated beverages in under 30 seconds.
In addition, a beverage can be customized thanks to a 7-inch touchscreen, or from a mobile phone. Over-the-air software updates also ensure latest updates on beverages formulated by celebrities.
The machine builds each beverage at the molecular level using hundreds of ingredients, all housed within an ingredients cartridge. And unlike pod-based systems that make a single drink per pod and generate lots of waste, Cana’s cartridge system can make thousands of drinks before being replaced (and recycled). The ingredients cartridge works with a separate sugar cartridge, spirits cartridge, water reservoir and carbonation cylinder to make the magic happen.
According to the company, it can serve an infinite variety of drinks, including cold brew coffee, tea, soda, juice, hard seltzers and specialty cocktails. Apparently, this thing can even make wine, although it’s hard to know if we’re excited or scared of that fact. It can also update its beverage catalog with new brands from partners and creators around the world, so that tally should only increase.
The drinks catalog can be tweaked per individual preference, and through the touchscreen elements like sugar and alcohol content, caffeine level and flavor intensity can be altered. .
It has an interesting pricing system. The cartridges, which last about a month, are free and automatically shipped to consumers when one is running low, so one never has to think about replacing them. Rather than paying per cartridge, similar to pod-based coffee machines, a consumer pays per drink. For example, sparkling water is 29 US cents, iced tea is 79 US cents, and a cocktail costs US$2.99.
According to Cana a patent-pending cartridge holds small amounts of 84 essential flavoring ingredients that are precisely blended with tap water, sugar, alcohol and carbonation inside the machine to create the drink you select from a Roku-like touchscreen interface.
Are Cana’s beverages tasteful?
Cana says our perception of taste relies on a small subset of compounds, not unlike the way a high-res video stream removes most of the original video information but doesn’t look like it did. Cana also relies on the fact that, to some degree, we taste what we’re told we’re about to taste: The color screen on the device brings each drink to life with a vivid description and thematic video clip while it’s being made.
Clear drinks will be offered first; Some traits such as viscosity, opacity and pulp will be harder to achieve until future versions of the device arrive.
Drink creators will earn a cut of the price of each drink made from their formula, not unlike the stars of social and video platforms.
Potential applications other than at home
Many food outlets in many countries, such as Malaysia, are having problems to recruit drink makers. They move from one establishment to another to seek for higher salaries. I believe more up-market restaurant would need Cana’s appliance to offer a wide variety of beverages for their customers.
This appliance is a great idea!
Coca Cola, Pepsi and F&N (a big brand in Malaysia), “Are you watching?”