The Wi-Fi-connected juice machine “Juicero” became one of the most widely-mocked IoT products in history after the news broke that squeezing its single-serving packets by hand produced results that were pretty much identical to using the machine. It made for a lot of juicy headlines, sure, but that wasn’t the end of putting drink machines on the Internet by any means. Name a drink and there’s probably a machine that will let you customize it on an app and have it ready when you arrive home.
Smart Coffee Machines
Smart coffee is the biggest category by far in the surprisingly large “smart drink machine” niche. Machines like Smarter Coffee, GranBaristo, Behmor, and others let you control the devices through apps and smart home interfaces. That’s right – you could just yell at Alexa to make you a cup of coffee in the morning. You can schedule brew times, hit a button in the app to start brewing while you’re still in bed, change the strength of the coffee, or even order a latte or cappuccino.
We all have a coffeemaker, and we’re used to these machines coming with an ever-increasing arsenal of features, so if any smart drink machine is going to take off, this is it. We do a lot to streamline our legally and medically approved morning drug use, after all.
Smart Tea Kettles
There are more smart tea makers out there than you’d expect (Teplo, Qi Aerista, and Teforia just to name a few), and they make Japanese tea ceremonies look like they’re not trying hard enough. Here are a few of the things these smart kettles can do:
- Figure out exactly the right temperature, steeping time, and brewing method for the type of tea you’re using.
- Schedule and automate your tea-making.
- Lift the tea leaves out of the water when steeping time is over.
- The Teplo can even read environmental and biometric data, including ambient light, temperature, fingerprint, and heart rate. It remembers who you are and how you like your tea, gauges how you’re feeling (stressed, tired, etc.) and changes the brewing process to produce tea with more calming or energizing (more caffeine) qualities.
- It almost goes without saying that you can control these kettles with an app that might tell you everything from the water temperature to the flavor notes of the tea you’re about to drink.
It might not have the wide-ranging appeal of smart coffee machines, but people who are into tea tend to be really into it. IoTea devices (to borrow a pun from Qi Aerista) might thus have a lot of niche appeal.
Smart Homebrewed Beer
Literally no one:
Techy beer nerds: KEURIG FOR BEER
That’s right! You asked and – oh, wait – You didn’t ask? Well, there are a bunch of companies over here with machines that let you brew craft beer in your kitchen in one to two weeks by tossing in some ingredients and pressing a button. What should I tell them?
Seriously, though, forget going out and getting a six-pack: PicoBrew, BEERMKR, LG HomeBrew, and other devices want to bring homebrewing to the masses by taking away all the parts where you have to do actual work. Some, like LG, are cutting the process down to prepackaged ingredients and automatic brewing at a button-press, while others, like PicoBrew (which can also brew things like kombucha and cold-brew coffee), let you get a little bit more hands-on with your product. Some even let you monitor the brew process, conditions, and predicted flavor profiles on connected apps.
Cocktails, wine, and other alcohol
Okay, so you can get robot-brewed beer now. What if you don’t like beer? You’d better believe you have options. Keurig (yes, coffee Keurig) is now selling a Drinkworks Home Bar that will mix you up a cocktail of your choice in under a minute. It can also produce beer, wine, and cider by mixing extracts from their proprietary pods.
If you’re looking for something a bit more homebrewed, though, the Alchema might be for you. This device claims you can alcoholize just about anything in their device, actually: beer, wine, cider, mead, sake, whatever fruit you have lying around, etc. It self-sanitizes, does most of the brewing work by itself, and sends you updates on alcohol content, sweetness, and time left via its app.
Need something a little harder after all that brewing work? Yep, that’s right – you can get a still attachment for PicoBrew that allows you to make your own spirits.
People were getting water from faucets all the way back in Ancient Roman times. If their lead pipes hadn’t been slowly poisoning them, though, they probably would have invented a machine that could custom-flavor and carbonate their water with a few swipes or an Alexa command. The Rocean will even tell you how much plastic you saved, which would be a very useful feature for anyone whose level of bottled flavored water consumption has reached a point that can only be defined as “problematic.”
Like most IoT devices, drink machines range from fairly practical to just a bit ridiculous. A coffee machine that makes your coffee the exact right way when you get up every morning? That’s obviously going in my sci-fi smart home. Pod-based cocktail dispenser, though? If I’m going to develop a problematic drinking habit I’d prefer to mix my own, at least I’ll develop some bartending skills. On the other hand, I am a techy beer nerd and have homebrewed in the past, so there’s a non-zero chance that I’ll be logging into the Internet of Beer at some point.