Coffee fanatics, it’s time to get even more excited. A new product is transforming your favorite drink into a much more personal experience. Literally. It all started when two friends — both industrial designers — were sitting in an Israeli coffee shop. They were staring into the cups of their lattes and noticed the white froth.
They saw it as a blank canvas before their eyes, and thought it would be great to personalize that canvas with a message, photo or logo. In that moment, Ripples was born. Its marquee product is the Ripple Maker, an internet-connected, WiFi-enabled device that takes any image or message from a computer file, and “prints” it out on top of coffee froth with coffee extracts. From start to finish, the process takes just seconds. And it’s oh so cool.
Thus far, many coffee shops, restaurants and hotels have bought in. But who led the buying craze? “The first customer we love talking about is Lufthansa Airlines,” says Yossi Meshulam, Ripple’s CEO. “They bought it for their first-class lounges in Frankfort. Everything with them is about the customer experience. In New York, we’ve had a lot of specialty coffee shops, a lot of high-end shops, buying them. We see restaurants, and even a railroad company wanting to put it on their trains. We’ve already had some customers that started with one or two Ripples come back for many more, for the rest of their locations. Repeat orders are a great thing for us.”
Interestingly, Meshulam claims that he knows of no customers who charge extra for the service to their own customers. It’s more of an added value. “The whole idea is to improve the connection with the customer,” he says. “They want to keep the experience engaging, and look at it as an enhancement to their service. Locations like hotels and restaurants want to personalize the customer experience, and make it unique.”
For the moment, the machine is not available to private parties — although the company has received many requests for home use.
Even though the images are created on the milk-based froth using coffee extracts — by the way, there are no sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients, glutens or allergens in the extracts, which are made solely of a high-quality coffee mix of Arabica and Robusta beans — it doesn’t change the flavor at all or add any measurable amount of caffeine. “The quantity of espresso it uses is insignificant,” says Meshulam. “So if you only drink decaf, you don’t need to worry.”
The Ripple sells for $1,000, plus there’s a monthly subscription charge for coffee extracts that starts at $85.
Officials say the learning curve for coffee shop clerks is extremely quick. Images can be uploaded through a mobile app or through a website. There’s no hook-up to any other machines. This is a stand-alone device in which the barista simply places the cup on a shelf that’s lifted up to the printer. The only real maintenance it requires is a daily cleaning.
Check out this video to see just how sleek the process is.