Poursteady: Pour-over, Perfected.
Poursteady: Pour-over, Perfected.
Our pour-over coffee machine makes great coffee with unprecedented speed, precision, and reliability for commercial coffee retailers.
Our pour-over coffee machine makes great coffee with unprecedented speed, precision, and reliability for commercial coffee retailers. Read more
What is Poursteady?
Poursteady is a beautifully designed, automated pour-over coffee machine that brings unprecedented speed, precision, and reliability to high-end commercial coffee retailers–and better coffee to discerning coffee drinkers everywhere.
Traditionally, pour-over is a meticulous method for making a better cup of freshly brewed coffee. Our machine honors the craft of this process, while enabling a single operator to make five cups simultaneously with near-perfect precision and repeatability.
Two of our founders, Mark Sibenac and Stuart Heys, are engineers who have collaborated for almost a decade on robotics projects for NASA and many others. Mark had been making pour-over coffees for himself at home for years, and when he and Stuart started talking about it, they realized that pour-over was a perfect application for the robotic technologies they were so familiar with. Eventually they stopped talking and started building, and Poursteady was born.
The first prototype debuted at World Maker Faire in 2013. After brewing 865 cups of coffee over two days and getting some really good reviews, it seemed like the machine could be a business and not just a project. The team grew to include Stephan von Muehlen, a product designer with commercial hardware and startup experience, and Greg Mihalko, a talented user-experience designer and creative director with a small practice in New York, and at this year’s Maker Faire we returned with a new machine and brewed 913 cups of coffee.
We have designed the machine to be right at home in coffee shops, restaurants, or offices. The clean lines, bare metal finishes, and carefully considered details are meant to shine in almost any environment. We have moved the custom hot-water heater below the counter to clear up valuable counter space and highlight the machine itself.
But we have also paid close attention to the user experience. The graceful movement of the nozzle, as it delivers a measured series of pours to each filter, is visible to the customer.
Our design is also for baristas. They apply their expertise by determining the settings of the pour-over through a simple app and provide the human element in serving their customers.
By handing the pouring over to the machine, we also hope repetitive stress injuries can be avoided.
With Poursteady we hope to make pour-over coffee accessible to a much larger audience through better coffee, beautiful design, and a unique user experience.
Poursteady is designed with industrial automation components rated for hundred of thousands of cycles to ensure a long lifetime of operation with minimal servicing.
The motion of the nozzle is determined by two degrees of freedom–one linear and one rotational–controlled by two brushless DC motors with encoder feedback, driven by digital servo drives on a CANbus network. This high-fidelity motion control allows for precise positioning with very high speeds and accelerations.
Controls software runs from custom real-time applications on a BeagleBone Black processing platform. The operator can change the amount of water in each pour, the timing between the pours, the patterns used for pouring, and the number of pours for each kind of coffee being brewed via an HTML5 app.
The Linux OS running on the BeagleBone allows Poursteady to easily connect to cloud servers where the interface for the settings is hosted. A single lighted button is located above each cup for operator control and feedback. Once the operator presses a button to instruct the robot to make coffee at that station, the request is inserted into a work queue. Poursteady's scheduler services the work queue and keeps track of which stage each dripper station is in.
It controls the volume of water in each pour with feedback from a flow meter to brew consistent cups of coffee. Water is maintained at a temperature optimal for brewing coffee (approximately 202 degrees Fahrenheit) in an under-counter tank via a PID controller. Coordinating the motions of the two motors through software allows for both the translation of the nozzle between five filter locations and the assignment of arbitrary pouring patterns at each of those locations–including spirals, zig-zags, hearts, and stars. The pattern generators create an x,y bitmap after a conversion from Cartesian to polar coordinates that is then loaded into the motor controllers via the CANbus. Statistical data on timing and number of cups of coffee made is collected, stored on board, and uploaded to the cloud.
In the near future, we will integrate Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) protocols for point-to-point wireless communications between operators, customers, and our machine. We also plan to develop iPhone- and Android- native apps for both users and operators to take advantage of these technologies, enhance user experiences, and limit the need for Wi-Fi connectivity. Our system currently supports over-the-air firmware updates, allowing for the possibility of future enhancements to functionality on the machine as well.
Risks and challenges
We anticipate the biggest risks and issues that we will face will be in delivering machines to our earliest customers and supporters on schedule. While we have already manufactured a few machines that we know work flawlessly, issues will inevitably come up first in procuring the components from 3rd party vendors and then in functional testing in real-world environments. These types of issues each of the team members have experienced first-hand with other projects and are confident that we can overcome them, but the amount of time it takes can always be somewhat out of our control.
In a related issue, some of the rewards offer cups of coffee from future installations and partners. This is of course dependent on those happening in a timely fashion. We do know however that we will be installed in the coming months at one location in Brooklyn and plan to have at least a couple events of our own where they can be redeemed.
As we are a small team, customer service and support are things that we will undertake on our own at first. Until we have the resources to hire additional staff, we will be working very hard to develop and launch our product at the same time as working with our Kickstarter supporters to address any questions and concerns they have. We will be sure to update folks with progress reports and answer directly as many concerns brought to us by our supporters in as timely a manner as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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