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Coffee in space

May 17, 2012

For some reason a minute ago I started daydreaming about coffee in space. Sadly, we don’t seem to be near the time when it will be possible for middle-class wannabe explorers/adventure seekers like myself to buy a ticket to visit the Moon or even do a few orbits of Earth without raising the kind of cash it takes to get a U.S. president elected. But in several countries right now with space programs a chosen few can call themselves astronauts and look forward to achieving weightlessness if they’re lucky.

Here’s what I’m wondering: where are all the coffee-loving astronauts? And if they’re out there, what do they drink while in space? Judging by this video, which focuses on *how* to drink coffee in space, it seems that only pre-brewed coffee is available. Just squeeze from the bag and serve! I understand that these people have more important things to do than geek out over freshness, etc., but they can undoubtedly do better.

Some are even trying to. A little googling yields the following link to a story describing a zero-G coffee percolator invented by two Costa Rican engineering students and commissioned by…drum roll, please…a retired astronaut who spent serious time on the International Space Station back in the day! Ding ding ding! Franklin Chang-Diaz, you’re boldly going where no one has gone before. Although I doubt the challenge is distracting you from running your Ad Astra Rocket Company or teaching physics and astronomy at Rice University.

If brewing coffee in space is cutting-edge at the moment, what would we call *grinding* coffee in space? Science fiction? That sort of grinding would present real challenges, I think. For example, there’s no shortage of espresso enthusiasts who insist that the downward bean-on-bean pressure exerted within a grinder hopper gives them more consistency. Imagine what would happen in a gravity-free environment. Would you need suction?






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