Cana One's team studied the molecular makeup of drinks to build a machine that can recreate almost any beverage.
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Cana One
Credit: Courtesy of Cana

I am not a scientist. However, I do recall from my school days that the world is made of molecules. Like, I guess I am made of molecules. And the foods I eat are molecules. And the drinks I drink are molecules. And I guess if you could control molecules, you could make any drink ever out of these molecules.

Now, a Redwood City, California-based tech company called Cana says they've developed a machine that can do exactly that: make "thousands" of different drinks with "the world's first molecular beverage printer." And not only that, you can preorder one right now — estimated delivery date: early 2023.

Yesterday, Cana announced the official presale of their forthcoming Cana One — a countertop machine that is similar to a pod-based drink machine but without the pods. Instead, Cana promises that a single Cana One ingredient cartridge can create hundreds of different beverages by pulling recipes from its "universal ingredient set."

"Cana's team spent three years studying what we drink at the molecular level, commercializing breakthrough research in flavor and analytical chemistry," the company writes. "Cana scientists identified and isolated the specific trace compounds that drive flavor and aroma for thousands of unique commercially available beverages. They created the world's first universal beverage ingredient set, which recreates thousands of different drinks using a simplified set of ingredients that can be printed out of a long-lasting ingredient cartridge."

Cana One
Credit: Courtesy of Cana

The results sound too good to be true: The company's beverage page touts iced coffee, iced tea, sparkling tea, energy water, flavored water, immunity water, sports drinks, soft drinks, hard seltzer, cocktails, and, finally — I guess just to prove they aren't screwing around — wine. (I'll reserve the right to maintain a healthy level of skepticism about the wine.)

Cana even promises that you can customize the levels of ingredients like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and the latter two can be child-proofed with a PIN code.

"Cana One is designed to give each customer convenience, savings, and an experience they didn't know they were craving — while cleaning up the planet," CEO Matt Mahar said in the announcement. "It's like having a personalized beverage aisle in your kitchen — with zero trash or hassle from plastic, aluminum, and glass containers."

Cana One
Credit: Courtesy of Cana

Speaking of savings, Cana One will employ a unique pricing model, too. Right now, customers can reserve one of the machines with an upfront payment of $99 which will then be applied to the final price, which is $499 for the first 10,000 orders and $799 after that. The cartridges are replaced as needed free of charge, but customers will pay per drink, depending on what they ask their Cana One to make. Advertised prices are $0.29 for a sparkling water, $0.79 for an iced tea, and $2.99 for a craft cocktail.

As cool as Cana One may sound, that kind of pricing model does come with an inherent risk: Pricing on individual drinks could always go up and if at any point Cana goes belly up, you're out the sunk cost of the machine. To be fair, similar things could be said about those now-ubiquitous pod machines.

And then the next question becomes the drinks themselves. Can this magical machine actually make drinks that taste good?

Cana touts the use of "quality ingredients," adding that their machine "recreates your favorite beverages using the all-natural ingredients you already know and love, from the molecule up." And the company also promises "exclusive beverages from brands you know" — though currently, the only partner listed on their website is the Hella Cocktail Co. (which, no offense, I don't really know). As yet, it remains to be seen if they'll eventually land anything like a Coke or Pepsi partnership.

So is Cana One the future of beverages? At this point, it's impossible to say. Frankly, all the technology in the world doesn't matter if the beverages don't taste great. If the beverages do taste great, well, then that's something. But in an interesting analogy, Bharat Vasan — president and COO of The Production Board, the business foundry that's backing Cana — told TechCrunch that Cana "feels like the Netflix of beverage experiences." Point taken, though as much as people love Netflix, most of us don't want to watch a good chunk of what's on there.

And yet, if you're a tech-obsessed, early adopter type, it's easy to see how Cana One might sound intriguing enough to give it a try. You can find out more details and reserve one at Cana.com.