Recently a Kickstarter project called the Cafelat Robot came to my attention. It’s a minimalist espresso machine that’s barely a machine at all, let alone a robot. In fact, the “robot” is you! As a user of this device you have to grind the coffee, tamp it, and heat the water — then you have to apply the pressure on your own, just like a manual lever machine.
After a few prominent high tech crowdfunded espresso machines went bust it’s refreshing to see an extremely simple espresso machine hit Kickstarter, let alone one that covers pre-infusion, recommends against blade grinders, and takes food safety seriously. The only reason I can think of to be skeptical of this project is the low goal of $50,000 USD. Physical products cost a ton to manufacture. It’s unclear how much investment this project has outside of Kickstarter.
That said the video does make it clear this is their first production run, so I’d expect a beta quality product. Even if you do wind up getting a Cafelat Robot via Kickstarter (which is not guaranteed) it’s unclear if and when replacement parts will be made available.
My verdict is to wait and see. For the price of $300 USD I’d expect a little more, like a quality hand-cracked burr grinder such as the one shown in the video. Still I’d love to see this project succeed in the long run, if for no other reason than how little counter space it would take up in my kitchen.