No, you can’t make espresso with a phone case

Recently a Kickstarter project from Italy made headlines, the Mokase, which claims to be able to make a shot of espresso using a case for several popular smartphone models.

There’s only one small problem with this idea: it’s completely insane. Tech news site The Verge offers a skeptical take, pointing out a lack of specifics on how the device actually works.

As an espresso fan, software engineer, and longtime iPhone user, I can point out a few ways in which this project doesn’t pass the sniff test:

  • Espresso requires heat, which is the enemy of a battery powered device like a smartphone. Remember when Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones overheated and (in some cases) actually caught on fire? My previous iPhone 6 had a similar issue where the battery expanded due to overheating, pushing the screen out of the phone’s case. Heat is an issue for lithium ion batteries in general. However this device works (assuming it does at all) it’s located in the worst place you could put, up against your phone. The Verge’s article above points out that there seems to be no real reason to tie this to a phone.
  • Espresso pods with no pricing information — how much will this cost per shot? The Kickstarter doesn’t say. Pod-based coffee in general isn’t a good investment, and it’s bad for the environment. If you’re not going to invest in a quality espresso machine, you’re better off going to a cafe for your espresso fix. This project only differentiates itself from the mediocre espresso pods on the market already based on size. That’s not enough.
  • Does it even exist? As of this writing, Kickstarter has suspended funding for the project. For hardware projects, Kickstarter requires a working prototype. Given the lack of specifics it seems reasonable to question whether Mokase has any prototypes.

All that said, I’ve already booked my first visit to Italy this summer. If anyone from the Mokase team wants to reach out and provide a demonstration of their working prototype, I’m willing to test it with an open mind. But as a consumer, I have serious doubts about both this project and the general concept overall. To me, this sounds like an even more questionable version of the Juicero, but for espresso. At least I’ve heard of people trying the Juicero — that’s more than I can say for the Mokase.

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