Throughout high school and college, Matt Walliser spent four summers interning with NASA. As a mechanical engineering major, it’s a bit surprising that today, he’s an innovator in the coffee business. So how does a kid go from NASA intern to coffee master?
While at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, Calif., Walliser worked with something called proportional integral derivative (PID) controllers — technology used to keep rovers moving at constant speeds over varying terrain. Which, if you’ve ever read The Martian, seems like a very difficult and important challenge.
Walliser and his partner, Jeremy Kuempel, found a way to apply what Walliser worked on in the Ames Research Center to coffee.
Walliser knew that the same type of coffee bean tastes different when it’s brewed at different temperatures, and that the majority of coffee machines only control temperature within five to 10 degrees. Plus, coffee drinkers (aka everyone) can detect a difference between coffee brewed as little as two degrees apart.
Pretty impressive, huh?
Together, Walliser and Kuempel created a high end, precision coffee machine and brewing company called Blossom Coffee. The new machine uses the technology of PID controllers to control the average temperature of water to within one degree so that the brewer consistently produces the same coffee. So now, you won’t be able to tell your barista that today’s “Ethopia virgacheffe” tastes way different than yesterday’s, you snob.
In 2013, the pair sold their first Blossom Limited prototype for $11,111. Last year, they began offering Blossom One Brewers for about half that price to cafes and coffee shops. Walliser hopes to offer a version for the home in the future.