Scientists aboard the ISS to enjoy quality espresso coffees now

Updated: December 2, 2014
Scientists aboard the ISS to enjoy quality espresso coffees now

A newly designed cup, which can defy the low-gravity environments encountered aboard the International Space Station (ISS), will allow astronauts to enjoy espresso coffee in space.

Created by Turin-based Lavazza and engineering firm Argotec, the “ISSpresso,” distributes water under high pressure through the machine into a pouch, where it can then be enjoyed with some help from a straw.

In order to function correctly, the ISSpresso must be able to withstand severe pressure, which is part of being in space as well as negotiating fluid dynamics in a weightless environment, according Time.

The machine moves water through a steel tube and weighs 44 pounds. The machine doesn’t just make espresso however, it will also be able to provide tea, cafee lungo (espresso with extra water), broth for soups and infusions, according to Time.

Everyone involved with the project seem to be very excited about the new machine, including astronauts, since it will give them a chance to wake up with some genuine Italian coffee in the morning instead of the usual instant coffee.

A team at Portland State University presented a paper, titled The Capillary Fluidics of Espresso, which outlined how to enjoy espresso in space, using a proper cup, by replacing the role of gravity with the forces of surface tension.

“Espresso is distinguished by a complex low density colloid of emulsified oils. Due to gravity, these oils rise to the surface forming a foam lid called the crema,” said the team, according to Time. “To some, the texture and aromatics of the crema play a critical role in the overall espresso experience. We show how in the low-g environment this may not be possible. We also suggest alternate methods for enjoying espresso aboard spacecraft.”

The team included a member of NASA and a high school student.

Italy sent astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the ISS recently with the specially engineering espresso machine that can work in zero gravity.