Cryogenic Coffee? Bringing Science Into Your Cup

If you love gourmet coffee but hate brewing it, there’s a new solution! A company called Cometeer is offering a new product: perfectly brewed coffee frozen into capsules.

The result? A cup of coffee that’s almost as easy to brew as instant coffee, but a whole lot tastier (at least in theory). Keep reading to see what we learned about this brand-new coffee product!

How does it work?

The basic process is this: Cometeer buys roasted coffee beans, brews them to perfection, freezes the coffee at cryogenic temperatures, and ships you frozen coffee pucks in aluminum capsules. Then you pour hot water over the puck to make a fast, tasty cup of coffee. Does that sound a little complicated? Let’s take a closer look:

One big thing that Cometeer is selling is that its brewing process is more scientific than most of our home brewing setups. According to the company’s website, the process is specifically designed to control every variable of brewing: “particle size distribution of the grounds, water chemistry, temperature and pressure, oxidation, extraction yield, and level of total dissolved coffee solids per cup, plus each bean’s water moisture content, roast level, and grind size distribution.” No matter how advanced your brewing setup is, you’re probably not focusing on all of those variables, right?

The company works with well-known coffee roasters like Counter Culture, George Howell, and Joe Coffee. The exact brewing process is proprietary, but the concept is that it’s like having the perfect barista prepare your coffee. Perfectly roasted beans, optimized brewing process, delicious coffee.

Cryogenic coffee could help you skip complicated coffee setups! | Image: Joseph Robertson, Flickr, CC 2.0

2. Cryogenics

Right after brewing the coffee, Cometeer’s coffee scientists put it into a liquid nitrogen bath, which freezes the coffee at an arctic -321 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where the word cryogenic comes in! The cryogenic temperature range is from -238 to -460 degrees Fahrenheit (a temperature that scientists call “absolute zero”) — so the Cometeer temperature is right in the middle. This very low temperature slows the movement of molecules nearly to the point of stopping, making the coffee as static and unchanging as possible.

What’s the point? The reason coffee tastes stale, sour, or bitter after sitting around for a while is that these molecules are moving, breaking down, and oxygenizing. Slowing the molecules nearly to the point of stopping freezes this breakdown process, keeping the coffee at freshly brewed perfection for months instead of minutes.

3. Shipping

Cometeer ships the cryogenic coffee sealed into aluminum capsules and packed with dry ice to keep them frozen. When you get your box, you transfer the capsules straight into the freezer. The capsules keep for months or even years in your freezer!

4. Melting

Once you have cryogenic coffee capsules sitting in your freezer, how do you turn them into tasty cups of coffee? Cometeer has quite a few suggestions, but the easiest method is to put a frozen capsule in a coffee mug and pour 6 to 8 ounces of hot water over it. The capsules are apparently concentrated enough that this will produce a bold, flavorful cup of coffee. It’s something like turning cold brew concentrate into hot coffee.

Other options include putting the frozen capsules straight into single-serve coffee makers or melting them and adding steamed milk. Sounds incredibly easy, right? You don’t have to deal with coffee grounds or filters, and the capsules are easily recyclable.

How can you try it?

At the moment, Cometeer is still in an invite-only pilot program. That means that if you want to order the coffee, you have to sign up with your email and wait for an invitation. If you’re lucky enough to get an invite, you can buy a welcome kit with 32 capsules and four different roasts. The coffee varieties are seasonal and come from the full range of roasters. And how expensive is it? At $64 for 32 capsules, you’re paying $2 a cup — less than you’d pay at a coffee shop, but a bit more than most K-Cups. A small price to pay for what could be the best coffee of your life — but only if it actually is the best coffee of your life!

The Bottom Line

Is this one of the coolest coffee innovations of the year or more gimmick than gourmet? We’re still waiting for our invitation, so we can’t say for sure. But it’s certainly an intriguing idea — and one that is sure to pique the interest of any serious coffee lover. Making perfectly brewed coffee at home without having to become a barista champion sounds good to us!


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