During the EBN Congress, Silicon Luxembourg discovered a SpaceTech startup pitching one of the craziest ideas of all. “We want to offer people an out-of-this-world experience, literally,” explained the co-founders.
Space coffee… an inspiration?
This American aerospace startup is developing a technology that can roast coffee beans… in outer space! It took just the right combination of experience for this one—a space engineer and a designer. “We met during our studies in Strasbourg, where we started to talk about this quite simple idea! Using space to deliver a beverage so commonly consumed was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Because I live in Dubai, we decided to launch the first Space Café there, which will serve our space-roasted coffee,” explained Hatem Alkhafaji, CEO at Space Roasters.
The confounders intend to open a space themed café that will be more than just a place to get coffee. It will be a hub and platform to find inspiration and knowledge about space. “This is about including as much as possible,” continued Hatem. “We strive to inspire and to demonstrate that space isn’t just for rocket scientists and national governments, but for the everyday person. We want to show they that they too can dream big!”
“Our technology will allow the transfer of such heat inside the capsule and into the roaster”
How are the beans roasted in practice?
“We offer the opportunity to drink a cup of coffee whose beans have been roasted by the re-entry heat of the Earth’s atmosphere. Our patented technology roasts coffee beans evenly and to perfection by mitigating the effects of gravity,” said Anders Cavallini, co-founder and CTO.
The process takes place through a suborbital flight. A capsule is launched to an altitude of 182m in about two minutes. There needs to be enough speed to create friction once the capsule hits the atmosphere. Such friction then heats up the technology in the capsule. “Our technology will allow the transfer of such heat inside the capsule and into the roaster. This storage of heat is essential to start the roasting process, but we only have thirty seconds to do so—then it’s time for the re-entry,” detailed the CTO.
The founders anticipate launching 300 kgs. of beans per capsule. “The amount of beans really depends on the rockets used, as there are differences in terms of size and speed among them. We are in discussion with several launchers who have shown interest in our technology,” declared the CTO.
The price for a cup of space coffee is not yet fixed, but the founders believe that a price range of 50-100 € per cup is realistic.
“We need a total investment of 2,750,000 euros, of which 1 million will be raised now, to launch our first batch of coffee”
A space coffee by 2020
The founders are currently working on this technology and are aiming for a 2020 deadline for the opening of the café in Dubai, as a lot is happening in the region around space tech. “Dubai will host the International Conference of Space Operations in 2022,” declared Hatem with a tone that fully expressed his confidence.
“We need a total investment of 2,750,000 euros, of which 1 million will be raised now, to launch our first batch of coffee,” explained Anders. The startup is currently working with a German Institute on a plasma chamber to ensure that the capsule can store the heat but also go unscathed from it. They also hope to receive a statement of trust from the US Department of State, which will be “a critical stamp of approval for our technology.”
The next important stage for the startup will take place this summer as it intends to launch a balloon using similar technology as the future capsule in order to test it. “The balloon will only contain the equivalent of one cup of coffee beans, but we will be able to ensure that our process works,” concluded the founders.