If you think you go to great heights to find the best coffee, you’re about to be one-upped. Space Roasters founders Anders Cavallini and Hatem Alkhafaji decided that in order to achieve perfectly roasted beans, there was only one thing to do: head to outer space.
Here’s how it will supposedly work: According to the Guardian, the spacecraft — dubbed the Coffee Roasting Capsule — will launch from Earth filled with 300 kg green coffee beans, reaching a height of about 200km (124 mi). Upon the 20-minute trip back to Earth, the beans will roast in the heat generated by the reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Since the capsule will be zero-gravity, the beans will be free-floating, meaning that they’ll get a 360-degree even roast.
Once the device returns to earth, Space Roasters plans to sell the first-ever space-roasted coffee in Dubai, where the company is based (though the website’s contact page lists their location as San Diego, California).
The concept may be ludicrous, but the Space Roasters founders just might have the background to make it happen. Both Cavallini and Alkhafaji have educations in Space Science, and Cavallini has worked at NASA and Orbital and has “over 5 years of experience roasting, brewing, and tasting coffee from around the world.”
But there’s at least one coffee roasting red flag. The Space Roasters team expects temperatures inside the capsule to be around 200°C (392°F) during re-entry. I won’t get too deep into coffee roasting science here, but that’s a pretty low temperature — meaning that the coffee will likely have a very, very light roast. This is just another sign that this stunt is clearly less about creating the perfect cup of joe and more about creating a public spectacle.
Forgive the skepticism. As an ex-specialty coffee barista and forever coffee snob, I’ve seen people go to great heights to achieve the perfect coffee roast. Just not heights as great as this. And honestly, coffee roasted the traditional way is pretty dang great. While theoretically roasting beans in zero gravity would give a more consistent, all-around roast, there’s no way it will taste good enough to justify what is presumably an out-of-this-world pricetag (the company has yet to disclose any pricing details).
In the Guardian interview, the Space Roasters founders said that they were in discussions with private rocket companies like Rocket Lab and Blue Origins to find a launch partner. They’re hoping to launch the capsule as early as next year.
If you’re interested in getting in on this cosmic coffee, the Space Roaster’s website has a countdown clock for a pre-sale campaign which will open in a few weeks. Be sure to let us know if you suddenly get alien superpowers after sipping on a space latte.