Monday, 20 August 2018

This tilting kettle will make your coffee-loving friends livid

I’m a geek about a whole bunch of things, though coffee isn’t one of them. But, boy, do passions run hot when coffee preparation becomes the subject of a discussion. Take this recent Kickstarter, called The Automatica, as a good example. What I see is a cute gadget with a really appealing promo video. Set to a minimalist soundtrack of guitar strumming and engine rumbling, the video treats us to a view of the Salt Lake City skyline at sunset before moving on to pleasing closeups of bubbles foaming up as the coffee is filtered through the machine. The narration is calming and friendly. I kind of want to hang out with the makers of this gadget, they seem like good, chilled-out people.

Coffee-loving gadget nerds, though, they see through all of this facade and ask, “wait, isn’t this just a kettle that tilts?” To which the brief answer is “yes.” The longer answer, as per the Kickstarter pitch, is that the Automatica “controls temperature, flow rate, volume, pour pattern, and time so you don’t have to.” My colleagues are in uproar over this completely unnecessary design — engineered solutions for automated pour over coffee already exist and they’re self-contained little boxes — but, in all honesty, I like it exactly because it’s unnecessary. The tipping motion is like a one-step Rube Goldberg machine, and for me it triggers childhood memories of quirky inventions I’ve seen in comics and animated movies where the human is replaced by a clumsy mechanical concoction.

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