Unless I want to start the day like Oscar the Grouch, I have a cup of coffee every morning; I once told someone that I drank coffee for the benefit of others. I try my best to keep it at just one cup, although we all have those two and three cup days. My husband is also a big coffee drinker, and we have multiple coffee-making methods in our kitchen: a French press, a simple plastic pour-over cup, a one-button KitchenAid coffee maker, and a recently-acquired Keurig. So naturally, my interest was piqued when I heard about New Mexico brothers Jakub and Lukas Svec and PERK, their automatic, Third Wave coffee maker built through 3D printing technology. The PERK Kickstarter campaign goes live today, and the brothers already have a leg up, since Lukas is a Kickstarter record-breaker, having raised over $800,000 a few years ago for his company Sansaire and its sous vide machine.
We’ve seen 3D printing in coffee shops, a machine that uses 3D printing technology to create unique images in your coffee foam, recycled coffee lids turned into 3D printing material, and even a coffee maker that was turned into a 3D printer, but PERK is something new.
While 3D printing technology has actually been used to make coffee makers before, like with this 3D printed multi-flask brewer and the Debrew, there’s just something about the patent-pending PERK: it looks a lot less complicated to operate (good for making that first, early morning cup), and offers a minimalist, almost elegant design. Jakub Svec spent a year and a half working with 3D printers and components he bought on Amazon and eBay and went through a few different design iterations, using Santa Fe’s Iconik Coffee Roasters as a testing facility, before he finally completed the innovative PERK coffee machine. But what’s funny is that he didn’t start out to make a Third Wave coffee maker.
He was spending his time at non-profit community work space MAKE Santa Fe, where members have access to tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, and soldering stations, workshops, and other resources to repair, make, and invent whatever they want. Jakub, who used to work in nanotechnology R&D, developed PERK while he was attempting to solve the problem of brewing a good cup of coffee in low gravity environments. But once he introduced gravity to the PERK system, he realized that it solved all of the problems that arise with Third Wave coffee brewing.
Here’s a quick coffee history lesson: the first wave of coffee brewing started in the early 1900s, when roasters began to conveniently package ready-to-brew coffee for home consumers. The second wave was born in the 1960s, when dedicated coffee shops like Starbucks began focusing on espresso beverages and turning drinkable coffee into a social experience. The third wave hit in the early 2000s, and focuses on precision in every aspect of production, in order to make coffee that’s so sweet and bright it doesn’t require two little packs of sugar and flavored creamer.
Jakub’s PERK machine is challenging some of the beverages made by the top Third Wave coffee shops across the country, by applying nanotech manufacturing to the brewing process. The PERK uses a recirculating boiler, with a nested infusion chamber, to accurately control temperature and uniformity of extraction, which are the most difficult parts of making a good Third Wave cup o’ joe. Baristas are trained for hours to do what the PERK machine does with just the touch a button.
According to Jakub, he couldn’t have developed the PERK without 3D printing – namely, a Lulzbot TAZ 5 3D printer, from the looks of things.
“Without access to the 3D printers at MAKE Santa Fe and the community for support, I don’t think I would have had the courage to take on a project like PERK,” he said. “A lot of great tools are being developed for CAD but 3D printing will always remain a part of my workflow. Although the practical application of virtual and augmented reality as a design tool is increasing, it will never replace the visceral impact that a 3D printer can produce.”
Jakub and his PERK machine recently completed a demo tour, visiting Third Wave coffee shops in New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Texas, and a few other states to see if the machine could hold a candle to manual coffee brewing methods. If the comments section of the PERK’s Kickstarter page is any indication, the machine well exceeded expectations.
“I have never seen a coffee machine this capable for less than $10,000,” best-selling author and coffee connoisseur Scott Rao said of the PERK.
- silent operation – the pump registers at less than 20 decibels
- easy cleaning and maintenance – no descaling required, since the boiler is open
- perfect brew time – choose from one minute to 24 hours
- perfect saturation – mechanical suspension guarantees that each coffee particle is lifted, separated, and tumbled evenly
- perfect temperature – choose and maintain your desired temperature, from 50°F to 212°F
The Svec brothers are also working on a self-assembly kit version of the PERK, which will soon be available under an open source license on Wevolver. The Kickstarter campaign for the PERK Third Wave coffee machine goes live today, with estimated delivery in February of 2018.
Check out the campaign video to learn more:
Discuss in the PERK forum at 3DPB.com.