After nearly four years in the prototype phase, Cana Technology is unveiling what it calls the “world’s first molecular beverage printer” after securing $30 million in funding from foundry The Production Board.
If you’re wondering exactly what it could be, it’s basically a SodaStream meeting a computer printer. The smart connected device is about the size of a toaster, sits on your kitchen counter, and can produce an endless variety of beverages, from juice to coffee to cocktails, by combining it with water in your home, all from a “printer” cartridge, using a touch screen.
This is where “molecular” technology comes in: Cana has focused on identifying the core set of ingredients, essentially deconstructing drinks to determine what makes a certain drink taste, Lance Kizer, chief scientific officer of Cana, told TechCrunch.
Once you remove the water there is a small volume of drink you actually consume, around 5%-10%, so Cana has concentrated these ingredients and loaded them into a cartridge that can hold over 100 drinks different. The company has partnered with certain beverage brands and also created its own combinations.
“These are all the same ingredients that you consume in drinks, so we’re not recreating them,” Kizer said. “Quality is important, and we’re focusing on making drinks in a new way, and we’ve now created hundreds of them.”
Not only do you have hundreds of drinks at your fingertips, but you can also customize them to your liking: add more or less sugar, and for alcoholic drinks, more or less alcohol. While learning about the device, I was able to try a few of the drinks – cold brew coffee, root beer, and a black cherry mojito – and thought the flavors were bolder than their traditional counterparts and that the overall taste had a smooth finish.
Each cartridge holds one to three months of beverages, and the device detects the low level of the cartridge and automatically reorders. The cartridges are designed to be sent back for recycling, Kizer added.
Cana’s goal is to rebuild the $2 trillion beverage industry while keeping waste out of landfills and excess water being used at the same time. CEO Matt Mahar explained that the Cana prototype would save the typical American household about 100 beverage containers per month. On a large scale, Cana could reduce the use of plastic and glass containers, water waste and CO2 global beverage manufacturing complex emissions by more than 80%.
The new funding is heavily invested in supply chain and ongoing technology development, Mahar said. The company currently has 35 employees, and it expects to double this year.
Mahar said the company is still working on pricing for the device, but it will be cheaper than retail prices per use. By the end of February, he expected to have full data on pricing and when people will be able to start buying the device.
Bharat Vasan, president and chief operating officer of The Production Board, said the venture capital foundry had invested in a number of food companies, and said the Cana team was attractive because of its ambitious vision of technology and how it combined hardware, software and science in a whole new way of doing something.
For him, Cana’s device “is like the Netflix of beverage experiences”, and the same concentration technology used for beverages could be used for a number of other products, such as perfumes and cosmetics.
“It’s about changing the way things are made and shipped,” he said. “Distributed manufacturing is done in one place and then shipped to retailers. Now there’s a different delivery system that comes right to your doorstep that can bypass supply chain constraints. The beverage printer is a manifestation of this.