Cana is a Silicon Valley-based startup that it believes is on the verge of revolutionizing the way we drink. Whereas we associate printing mostly with hard, non-edible materials, they claim their invention will be able to print various beverages, from coffee to alcoholic cocktails.
Remember the fancy gizmo in StarTrek that materialised your food based on a command. Yeah, it’s like that, and we think it’s probably too good to be true, but given the gloom of the last couple of years over the pandemic, the war, and general misery, we’re willing to suspend our disbelief and believe, at least for a while.
In a recent interview for InTheir20 Podcast, the Cana CEO Matt Mahar revealed more about the machine and his past. From English instructor to EA game tester and developer at Nike, Mahar now heads Cana and explains how he landed there and what the future of beverage drinking looks like to him.
Three years ago, Mahar asked himself if what he was doing was also what he wanted to do and whether he was making an impact. Sustainability was one of his main requirements. At that time, he worked for The Production Board, “a holding company of businesses established to solve the most fundamental problems that affect our planet.” That’s where he first heard of Cana, the sustainable philosophy which enraptured him.
“There was this environmental mission, this sustainable mission, that really pulled me in,” Mahar says in the podcast. But there was also the technology part that was really captivating. “The idea of 3D printing beverages, any beverage from the same core ingredients, that we figured out are used to create wine, coffee, beer or soda or juice… It was kind of a perfect mix of sustainability and amazing product opportunity,” he goes on to say.
The Cana looks similar to any other modern home appliance. It has a touchscreen for customisation and discovery of drinks and cartridges for CO2, alcohol, sugar and water. But it’s the top part that interests us the most. It’s a storage room for an ingredients cartridge that dispenses compounds for the drink of your choice.
“99 % of what’s in a bottle or a can is water. That’s the crazy part. 99 % of it is water and the rest is this unique ingredients that make aroma and taste,” Mahar explains. “We know exactly what’s in that 1 percent, which is the only ingredient that needs to be shipped to your home, because the water already exists in your house.”
This final per cent is what goes into the ingredients cartridge and turns water into the drink of your choice. The cartridge contains compounds that make flavours and aromas, for example, sugars and acids. upon a click of a button, the compounds combine with ingredients from other containers, e.g. water, and create a beverage.
“Those same exact ingredients that make grapefruit seltzer, can be used to make a root beer or orange juice or a cold brew coffee. We can create any beverage from this universal set of ingredients from a molecular printer […] that sits on a countertop.”
Cana One is set to be shipped in volume in 2023. The first 10,000 pieces are available for reservation now with a deposit of $99. These early adopters will lock in a lower total price of $499. When the machine hits full production, the retail price has been set at $799.
The machine gets five stars from us for innovation and for the way it has remapped the sustainability equation. We are not holding our breath about the taste of the quality of the coffee, though.