This is the web version of our weekly newsletter. Subscribe to get all the best food tech new delivered directly to your inbox!
Delivery robots like those from Starship and self-driving vehicles like Nuro‘s grab a lot of headlines when it comes to the future of food and meal delivery. And it’s easy to understand why–robots are cool, man! But I have one bit of advice when it comes to the business of food delivery as we head into 2020:
Don’t sleep on electric bikes. They could be a huge platform in cities.
This is a prediction I’ve made before, when Uber bought e-bike rental company Jump last year. But yesterday’s announcement that Australian company Bolt Bikes launched its e-bikes for delivery service in the U.S. and U.K. got me thinking about a potential bicycle boom in food delivery.
TechCrunch reports that Bolt rents out bikes for commercial use on a two-week contract for $39. As TechCrunch writes, “The Bolt Bikes platform includes the electric bike, fleet management software, financing and servicing. Subscribers get 24-hour access to the bike. A battery charger, phone holder, phone USB port, secure U-Lock and safety induction is included.” Postmates has reportedly been piloting Bolt Bikes in SF since June.
E-bikes are actually great for city environments. They are fast, nimble on traffic-choked streets and take (most of) the work out of going uphill. Plus they have human drivers, so you don’t have to worry about the potential human/robot issues that come with even small autonomous delivery vehicles.
Though they aren’t as well suited for longer distances, e-bikes could also work in some suburban areas with tightly packed homes (think: housing developments), especially as part of a hub-and-spoke model. Next summer, Uber Eats is testing drone delivery of food to centralized drop off points where delivery people pick orders up and drive them the last mile. Instead of cars rolling around the suburbs, an e-bike could make that last mile more economical, faster (no need to park) and more welcome for neighborhoods that don’t want a lot more delivery cars driving around.
Bicycles already have already enjoyed a place in food delivery, especially in more dense urban areas, but the advent of affordable e-bikes could really charge up their use for getting you fed.
I’m going to steal from WIRED here for a moment, but:
WIRED: Precise heat control to the exact temperature you want
We covered two different technologies this week deliver granular control to the way you heat either a beverage or your BBQ.
First up we took Ember’s new Travel Mug<sup>2</sup> out for a spin. The Tesla of travel coffee mugs runs a whopping $180 and keeps your coffee at a constant hot temperature of your choosing. This second-generation Ember mug features great design and clever controls, but sadly the promised three-hour battery life diminished pretty quickly in real world circumstances. Check out our full review.
On a much larger scale, the just-announced Weber SmokeFire grill features the connected cooking smarts of a June Oven. The two companies announced that the JuneOS will power the Weber Connect app that controls the SmokeFire. You can also get step-by-step instructions to become a master griller and dial in a constant temperature for those long brisket smoking sessions.
The Ember Travel Mug <sup>2</sup> is available now if you’re looking for a pricey stocking stuffer, and while the SmokeFire ($999) won’t be out until 2020, you can pre-order it on Cyber Monday.
A New Spoon
If you’ve been to our website this week, then you’ll notice an entirely new look and a new logo.
As Spoon founder Mike Wolf noted when introducing the new site yesterday:
We launched the Spoon in October 2016. At the time, we didn’t know what it would become, all we knew is that we wanted to tell the stories of the people and companies shaping the future of food and cooking.
He went on, saying:
With thousands of stories published and hundreds of thousands of readers per month, The Spoon is a big part of what we do and we figured it was time the site got a fresh coat of paint and maybe even a new beam or two.
The Spoon will remain the best place for all the food tech news and analysis you need to know, it’s just going to be easier to read and navigate. G’head and click through it and tell us what you think!
Speaking of our new logo, you’ll be able to see it on display in Vegas during CES at our second annual FoodTech Live. Last year we had over forty companies showing their stuff, so if you have new kitchen or food tech product and want to show off your wares, make sure to check out our event page!