Okay, so the Cafelot Robot doesn’t technically defecate into a mug, but check this out:
You’re telling me that doesn’t look like a metal man squatting and pushing its arms down to force out a liquidy poop from its aluminium anus? Then you, my friend, are a liar.
I’ve got a thing for both coffee and weird coffee gadgets, so when I stumbled across the now fully funded Cafelat Robot on Kickstarter, I was intrigued.
The device is a manual espresso machine designed by Cafelet’s founder, Paul Pratt. He’s been designing barista tools for the past ten years, has one of the world’s largest collection of vintage espresso machines, and has served on the catchily titled World Barista Championship technical standards committee. I assume this is as rock and roll as it sounds.
Basically, Paul knows his shit and when it comes to coffee and we should probably listen to him.
Despite being made almost entirely from metal, the Cafelet Robot itself isn’t actually much of a robot at all. Kinda the opposite in fact. The espresso-making device has almost no moving parts, no electronics, no plastics or pumps. A Terminator this is not.
All you do is put some ground coffee beans in the Robot’s basket (careful), pour some boiling water in, and press yourself a delicious cup of joe. The team at Cafelet spent two years designing the device, with the inspiration being a desire to strip coffee making “back to basics.”
But… why? Not only do Nespresso and traditional espresso machines exist, but there are thousands of other ways to make coffee (think of Perculators, the Aeropress, or drip filters, just to name a few). Does the world need another?
“Of course!” Paul Pratt unsurprisingly told me.
Being a coffee aficionado, Pratt, of course, railed against fully-automatic espresso and Nespresso machines, telling me they don’t make “real espresso.” He went onto say that the only proper comparison to the Cafelat Robot are “real espresso [machines],” which cost upwards of a thousand dollars. But then, he would, wouldn’t he?
The Cafelet Robot will retail for around $300, which means it’s costlier than popular Nespresso machines. While I agree that coffee from these sources doesn’t taste quite as good as other methods, they make an absolutely fine beverage.
The real point of difference though is the ease of use. With a Nespresso machine you literally click a button and go. The Cafelat Robot on the other hand requires you to empty grounds, boil water, and, basically, do a bit more.
“I felt it was very important to try and buck the trend of plastic capsules being wasted and thrown away,” Paul told me. And, well, he’s not wrong.
Despite Nespresso creating schemes to cut down on waste, a lot of the capsules still end up in landfill sites. In fact, Nespresso’s former chief executive, Jean-Paul Gaillard, has warned of the environmental impact of its convenience-based, non-biodegradable capsules.
So, yeah, sustainability wise, the Cafelet Robot makes sense, but boiling a kettle? Couldn’t it do that inside itself?
“I like the fact that the Robot has very few parts,” Paul said, “[there’s] very little to go wrong.” He points out this is a big boon compared to regular espresso machines, as repairing them can be costly. Thing is, for the home user, I doubt many machines are used regularly enough to require regular repair, but I guess the point still stands.
As a sucker for gadgets and coffee, I do really want a Cafelet Robot. Like with most of this though, the price is somewhat prohibitive. Still, when you compare it to stove top espresso makers there is a huge price difference. Yet, with it being in the same ballpark price-wise as a Nespresso machine – and considering the fact that buying coffee beans is cheaper than capsules – it’s not that bad of a deal.
Plus, it’s gonna look great when you have it shitting out coffee in your kitchen.
For more info, you can head over to Kickstarter.
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