K-cups might not have much of a future on Earth: Hamburg just banned the coffee pods and even their inventor thinks their bad for the environment. But now there’s demand for similar pods in outer space.
For years, astronauts have suffered through a very sad caffeine-intake ritual. Their only coffee option was freeze dried, which they would mix with hot water and sip from a pouch. But now they can drink fresh, hot coffee in a cup. It’s all thanks to Drew Wollman, a Portland State University Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, who successfully designed a really crazy-looking space mug that brews fresh coffee in zero gravity.
- Plums Could Be the Next Superfood for Astronauts
- Astronauts' Space Suits Have Special Pockets for Vodka
- Starbucks Wants to Build the Eataly of Coffee
So, how does it work? Astronauts fill a large syringe with hot water, screw it onto the mug, then inject the water into a K-Cup-like pod and over the grounds. The coffee seeps through a filter and flows into the mug—where, amazingly, it stays thanks to the narrow spout and wide bottom. As Popular Science explains, “Take a sip at the spout, where the fluids creep through a combination of microgravity and capillary forces, and the drink flows itself into your mouth. And when your nose positioned right over the top of the cup, you’re able to smell what you drink.” Sounds great, but now Wollman needs to invent a zero-gravity burr grinder.