“Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised.” – Captain Janeway, Star Trek
Astronauts seem weirdly obsessed with figuring out how to get their caffeine fix while they’re in space. NASA even sent a Lavazza-made espresso machine up to the International Space Station last year (the machine is called ISSpresso, of course). You’d think they have more important things to do, like getting that Moon colony started. But then when you think about the fact that humans have been drinking coffee for thousands of years, you realize that if we don’t figure out how to brew in space, there might never be a Moon colony. Space settlers are not going to want to forgo their morning joe.
Jokes about Moon colonies aside, coffee brewing experiments in space have allowed astronauts to study all kinds of important physics in zero-gravity. Astronauts’ strong desire to drink coffee normally out of an actual cup (instead of the Capri Sun-looking bags with straws that they use to ingest their liquids) motivated them to invent a drinking vessel whose shape uses fluid dynamics to keep the liquid in the cup and let space folk sip normally. Well, about as normal as it’s going to get in zero-gravity.
And once the cup was invented, some clever astronaut figured out how to put a 1-cup brewer on the bottom. Space experiements in coffee brewing are exciting, as we might see some of that out-of-this-world technology trickle down into our lowly Earth brewing. If the ISS ever needs a dedicated barista, sign us up!