There’s much to be said for being an astronaut spending extended periods of time on the International Space Station, suddenly the fact that you’ve put on a few pounds in zero-gravity, you get to enjoy around 15 sunrises every day and it’s generally about as far from the usual nine-to-five grind as it’s possible to get. However, for all the incredible technology and advanced amenities the ISS presents to those it plays host to, one thing it most certainly cannot do is grind beans…as in coffee beans, that is. Yes, there’s much to be said for being a space traveller, but one of the real joys of life those aboard the ISS have been totally starved of is the prospect of waking up in the morning to the smell of real coffee.


That is, until now.


Just like everything else that’s consumed by those on-board the space station, all coffee has to date been supplied in standard freeze-dried form to which water is then added and the whole thing sucked out of a pouch. Suffice to say this can’t exactly compare with the experience of sipping real coffee from a real cup, but at least half of this rather disappointing issue has now been ironed out with an aptly-named ISSpresso machine. Launched into space just yesterday, the new machine was put together by Lavazza in conjunction with Italian aerospace firm Argotec and has made it possible for those aboard the ISS to enjoy tea, coffee and hot chocolate straight from standard Lavazza pouches. It even goes so far as to deliver the same whack of pressure as a standard Lavazza machine and the perfect 167 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature.


That however is where the likeness with anything terrestrial comes to an end as according to the experts that worked on the thing, absolutely none of its internal workings are anything even remotely like a standard coffee machine. They didn’t go into detail with the specifics…it is after all a potential gold mine in the making…but chances are it was things like leak-prevention in zero-gravity and the likes that made the machine quite the challenge to put together.


Samantha Cristoforetti bagged the honour of being able to try out the machine in zero gravity orbiting the Earth for the very first time, having been on the ISS for a year now and been forced to drink nothing but bog-standard instant. She and another Italian astronaut have both publically shamed the space program for not providing its most crucial human assets with the essential asset that is good coffee – it seems their prayers have at long last been answered.


Of course, the coffee won’t be served in a standard espresso cup or latte glass, but at the same time won’t be pouch-based either. Instead, the piping hot java will be enjoyed from NASA’s new space drinking mugs, which make the whole experience a lot more like that of drinking coffee back on planet Earth.


Impressive stuff, isn’t it?