Last week on The Spoon Editorial podcast, Head Editor Chris Albrecht discussed his recent look back at food- and drink-related crowdfunding successes and failures of 2019. He noted that some of the biggest success stories from the year were around gadgets geared towards two beverages: beer and coffee.
When it comes to the COFFEEJACK, that analysis seems accurate. The product, from Bristol, UK-based company HRIBARCAIN, launched a $13,081 Kickstarter for its single-serve portable espresso maker back in October. As of this writing, the campaign has raised over $1,093,000.
The COFFEEJACK is a handheld device that brews a single serving of espresso directly into your cup. Put finely-ground coffee beans in the base, fill it with hot water, and press the pump a few times to get a DIY espresso.
COFFEEJACK’s co-founders Ashley Hribar-Green and Matthew Cain (Get it? HRIBARCAIN!) met when they were engineers working on the cordless vacuum at tech company Dyson. They began developing an idea for an affordable portable espresso machine three years ago. Almost 400 prototypes later, they filed a patent on the current COFFEEJACK device, which creates high-pressure coffee extraction without the use of pods, filters or electricity.
As a one-time barista, I know that making espresso is far more difficult than, say, brewing up some joe in a french press. The key is to apply the exact right amount of pressure on the beans to extract all of the flavors. Cain told me that most espresso makers rely on air to create said pressure, which is why they’re often large and heavy. COFFEEJACK, however, relies on hydraulics to exert the necessary pressure, which requires far less space. That’s how the engineers came to develop a portable espresso maker small enough to hold in your hand, but forceful enough to extract an optimal shot.
Traditional espresso makers are not just unwieldy — they’re also expensive. An average home espresso maker — a real espresso maker, not the stovetop kind which essentially makes concentrated brewed coffee — will set you back around $500. By contrast, prospective backers can pre-order a COFFEEJACK for £70 ( around $91 USD). That’s on par with other handheld espresso makers on the market, though COFFEJACK’s founders told me their machine’s hydraulic extraction made it stand out from the rest.
Hribar-Green and Cain haven’t decided how much the device will cost once it hits the market. They expect to sell the COFFEEJACK both through traditional brick and mortar retail partners and online through their website.
If you missed out on the COFFEEJACK Kickstarter campaign but really want a handheld espresso maker, don’t panic. HRIBARCAIN plans to keep the crowdfunding a-rollin’ with a six-month IndieGoGo campaign, launching soon.
The COFFEEJACK is set to ship in May of 2020. As always with crowdfunded hardware, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll actually get your hands on the thing you forked over money for. However, HRIBARCAIN already has two successful Kickstarter campaigns under their belt, for a magnetically controlled pen and pencil, both of which are still shipping today. So the pair clearly has at least some experience with the hardware crowdfunding world.
One thing I personally like about the COFFEEJACK is how it cuts down on coffee waste. Keurig and Nespresso machines rely on tons of disposable pods to make espresso. While some of those pods can technically be recycled, they usually end up in landfills. COFFEEJACK isn’t reliant on pods or even filters, so it’s relatively waste-free.
HRIBARCAIN is based in the U.K., but they plan to ship COFFEEJACK globally. Down the road, Cain told me they would probably focus on the U.S., since Americans have, in his words, a “real appreciation for gadgets and great coffee.”
At least when it comes to crowdfunding projects, he’s got a point.