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But do we really need it?
Leaves and hearts simply won’t satisfy, and so the Ripples coffee maker was created to print any image on the foam of your coffee.
The 3D printing-inspired Ripple Maker that prints coffee extract onto the foam on top of a cup of coffee debuted at CE Week in New York on Wednesday. It combines 3D and inkjet printing mechanics to perfectly replicate any image onto your latte. The printable coffee extract is stored in “Ripple Pods,” and an image is printed in just 10 seconds.
Baristas can pick photos from a whole catalog of images in a compatible Ripple App to send to the coffee maker, but customers can also share their own photos through the app to get customized latte tops.
While it might be a clever gimmick to let customers pick their own foam adornments, some baristas might balk at the commoditization of latte art. Using milk, foam, and coffee to create intricate art pieces that end up in your belly is a difficult and well-honed craft perfected by only the most dedicated coffee makers. In fact, some people are willing to pay a couple hundred bucks to take latte art classes from the experts, and there’s a professional latte art competition each year where baristas from around the country show off their skills.
Where Ripple Maker will truly succeed is likely through business partnerships. What brand wouldn’t want to turn a cup of coffee into a drinkable billboard that almost everyone will surely Instagram? Ripples already has a corporate partner lined up—German airline Lufthansa will be debuting the printable latte art in first and business class lounges this year.
The Ripple Maker is mostly targeting coffee shops and other small businesses. The $999 price point and $75 monthly subscription will deter almost anyone else. Customers won’t have to pay any additional fee through the application, though if a coffee shop wants to use customized latte art as an upsell, it’s possible the 10-second printing job will cost a buck or two. But hey, the photo opportunities alone might be worth it.
Screengrab via Coffee Ripples/YouTube
Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.