Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is on the frontier of creating space history. Not only is Cristoforetti to be the first Italian woman in space, she is tipped to be the first of any nationality or gender to drink authentic Italian espresso in orbit.
So says coffee company Lavazza, which in league with lamination firm Argotec and the Italian Space Agency, has perfected espresso capsule technology for the microgravity environment. No longer will the Italians have to suffer the drip-filtered dreck Americans insist on calling coffee or the Soviet-era ersatz that the Russians left in the back of the space station cupboard. From now on all astronauts on the International Space Station will know the joy of ISSpresso.
Lavazza vice president Giuseppe Lavazza calls Italian coffee a beverage without borders, and says the company has been thinking about espresso in space for some time. “Indeed, as far back as 10 years ago we launched the espresso into orbit artistically with the photographs taken by Thierry Le Gouès and our Mission to Espresso calendar, which at the time may have looked like a work of science fiction but was actually just a vision of the future,” Lavazza said.
Making that vision a reality wasn’t easy though. The researchers had to dive deep into fluid dynamics to unlock the mysteries of handling liquids at high pressure and high temperature in a space environment. The result is a machine is so complex that it weighs about 20 kilograms and has built-in backups for all mission-critical coffee preparation. Lavazza says the machine will also be able to knock up a caffè lungo or hot drink such as tea, infusions and broth.
The company promises there will be earth-bound applications for the technology for the rest of us but there could be an even bigger market out there than its inventors ever imagined. With a little bit of interstellar marketing, Lavazza could position ISSpresso as the beverage solution all extraterrestrials have been waiting for.
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