All posts in “food and drink”

Coca-Cola’s new soda machine lets you mix your own flavors via Bluetooth

Look out world, Coca-Cola is introducing beverages to Bluetooth.

On Friday, the company announced its brand new soda machine, the Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100, which will utilize Bluetooth connectivity to allow users connect via the Freestyle mobile app.

Remember how Coca-Cola Freestyle brought its innovative touch screen soda machines — stocked with close to 200 drink options — to eateries, college campuses, and other beverage-loving establishments in 2009? Well, things have really taken off since then.

According to the company, “more than 50,000 Coca-Cola Freestyle units pour 14 million drinks per day” around the world, so they figured it was time to take the innovation to the next level.

In the future, not only will people be able to concoct their own beverages, but they can use the Freestyle app to connect to the machine with Bluetooth, create a mix via their mobile devices, and ensure it’s ready to pour ASAP.

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“Choice and customization are not fads – they’re here to stay,” Chris Hellmann, Freestyle’s VP general manager, said in a statement. “So we’re focused on making sure the Coca-Cola Freestyle platform stays current and contemporary and that we continue to offer more beverages people want.”

“We’ve built features into this dispenser that are not only contemporary for today,” Hellmann went on. “We’ve also future-proofed the platform with not-yet-activated features like audio capability, optical sensors and a new equipment option that will eventually support the addition of drink categories not available on Freestyle today, such as teas, cold coffees and new varieties of juices.”

Ah, the refreshing sight of Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

Ah, the refreshing sight of Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

Image: coca-cola

The Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 will reportedly be unveiled at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) tradeshow in Chicago this weekend. The company hopes to roll out the snazzy new machine nationally in 2019, and also has plans to implement a new Freestyle operating system across all existing machines.

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Tyson Foods investment arm backs another lab-grown meat manufacturer

The venture investment arm of massive meat manufacturer Tyson Foods is continuing its push into potential alternative methods of poultry production with a new investment in the Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies.

The backer of companies like the plant-based protein-maker Beyond Meat, and cultured-meat company Memphis Meats, Tyson Ventures’ latest investment is also tackling technology development to create mass-produced meat in a lab — instead of on the farm.

Future Meat Technologies is working to commercialize a manufacturing technology for fat and muscle cells that was first developed in the laboratories of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram,” said Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and chief scientist, in a statement. “We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap to $5-10 per kg by 2020.”

The deal marks Tyson’s first investment in an Israeli startup and gives the company another potential horse in the race to develop substitutes for the factory slaughterhouses that provide most of America’s meat.

“This is definitely in the Memphis Meats… in the lab-based meat world,” says Justin Whitmore, executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods.

Whitmore takes pains to emphasize that Tyson is continuing to invest in its traditional business lines, but acknowledges that the company believes “in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices,” according to a statement.

While startups like Impossible Foods are focused on developing plant-based alternatives to the proteins that give meat its flavor, Future Meat Technologies and Memphis Meats are trying to use animal cells themselves to grow meat, rather than basically harvesting it from dead animals.

Chef Uri Navon mixing ingredients with FMT’s cultured meat

According to Nahmias, animal fat produces the flavors and aromas that stimulate taste buds, and he says that his company can produce the fat without harvesting animals and without genetic modification.

For Whitmore, what separates Future Meat Technologies and Memphis Meats is the scale of the bioreactors that the companies are using to make their meat. Both companies — indeed all companies on the hunt for a meat replacement — are looking for a way around relying on fetal bovine serum, which is now a crucial component for any lab-cultured meats.

“I want my children to eat meat that is delicious, sustainable and safe,” said Nahmias, in a statement, “this is our commitment to future generations.”

The breadth of backgrounds among the investors that have come together to finance the $2.2 million seed round for Future Meat Technologies speak to the market opportunity that exists for getting a meat manufacturing replacement right.

“Global demand for protein and meat is growing at a rapid pace, with an estimated worldwide market of more than a trillion dollars, including explosive growth in China. We believe that making a healthy, non-GMO product that can meet this demand is an essential part of our mission,” said Rom Kshuk, the chief executive of Future Meat Technologies, in a statement.

One of the company’s first pilot products is lab-grown chicken meat that chefs have already used in some recipes. 

FMT’s first cultured chicken kebab on grilled eggplant with tahini sauce

In addition to Tyson Ventures, investors in the Future Meat Technologies seed round included the Neto Group, an Israeli food conglomerate; Seed2Growth Ventures, a Chicago-based fund backed by Walmart wealth; BitsXBites, a Chinese food technology fund; and Agrinnovation, an Israeli investment fund founded by Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University,

“Hebrew University, home to Israel’s only Faculty of Agriculture, specializes in incubating applied research in such fields as animal-free meat sources. Future Meat Technologies’ innovations are revolutionizing the sector and leading the way in creating sustainable alternative protein sources,” said Dr. Yaron Daniely, president and CEO of Yissum.

There’s something called Bacoin now

To paraphrase a saying popularized by countless dorm room stoners: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you use the hype around decentralized crypto economies to sell bacon.” The latest example of this age-old adage comes to us from Oscar Meyer and involves their exciting new cryp-faux-currency, Bacoin.

The currency can be redeemed for bacon and you “mine” it by sharing the good news of bacoin with your friends. Instead of taking up massive amounts of electricity, the production of the final store of value – pig parts – requires only a massive agricultural system dedicated to the wholesale destruction of mammals that are as smart as dogs and, in the right context, quite cute. The end product, bacon, is considered by many to be far more interesting than anything Vitalik created. In short, it’s a win-win.

How does it work? It’s basically a sweepstakes. From the rules and regulations:

The value of the Bacoin is tied to overall sharing meaning that the more people who share via the Website (as outlined above), the higher the value of the Bacoin. If overall sharing is slow, the value of the Bacoin will decrease. If sharing is slow and the value of the Bacoin is low, Sponsor may increase value of Bacoin in its sole discretion. The current value of the Bacoin will be displayed on the Website. Once the Bacoin is at a value you want, follow the instructions to “cash out” and you will receive a coupon with the corresponding value (all possible values of the Bacoin coupon are outlined in Section 4 below).

The current value of a single mined bacoin is about 28 slices of bacon and the more you share the more you mine. Given that it is in no way a decentralized cryptocurrency and has nothing to do with anything technical at all I’m hard pressed to find a reason to post this here except to admire the sheer chutzpah of a company who knows exactly what breed of Reddit-loving bacon eater will jump at a chance to Tweet about pork products. To paraphrase another saying by my friend Nicholas Deleon: I hope the asteroid they promised comes for us all soon.

Bacoin. Yeah.

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Snap reportedly working on new Spectacles, including two-camera version


Snap, Inc. calls itself a “camera company” so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that it’s working on new versions of its Spectacles hardware (especially since we reported just that last June). But a new report from Cheddar has surprised some with news that Snap is working on a refresh of their hardware´set to launch later this year, as well as a two-camera version planned for 2019.

The camera-equipped Snapchat Spectacles sunglasses, originally released in 2016, were briefly a hot commodity thanks to limited, pop-up retail only availability, but ultimately didn’t impress with total hardware sales and generally lacklustre broader retail launch. At $130, they come in a variety of colors and house a single camera at the joint where the arm meets the front of the frames, which captures circular video for sharing clips on Snapchat.

While some are expressing mystification about why Snap would continue developing this product in light of that performance, I think it makes perfect sense that the Snapchat-maker would take another kick at the can. Spectacles did create a big moment for Snap, for instance, especially in the early days, and that’s the kind of brand advertising that you can’t even buy with a gigantic advertising budget.

Also, if Snap is serious about being a camera company, it won’t give up after one middling attempt. Its apparently planning to build slight improvements into the next new version, intended to ship this fall, per Cheddar, with new colors, water resistance, and performance improvements. But the big changes are being lined up for next year’s model, which could incorporate an aluminum frame design, and 3D-depth effects in videos capture using them thanks to a second camera. Plus, they might also build in GPS for geotagging and a leather case, with a cost increase to around $300 for the premium features.

Spectacles’ disappointing first outing resulted in some significant setbacks for its hardware division, per Cheddar, including layoffs and management turmoil, but now it’s hoping to move forward with its gadget plans and it even acquired a company called FiveLocal, per Cheddar, to help prototype camera tech for various different types of potential gadgets.

Cheddar also reports that Snap is considering partnering with Luxottica and Warby Parker on sales on building camera tech into their existing eyeglasses, though it seems like those discussions are still at an early stage.

As we reported previously, the new report says that Snap is also intending to incorporate augmented reality into future version of Spectacles, including potential Bitmoji AR features.

The Rite Press takes low-tech coffee making to high-tech highs


If coffee be the food of innovation, pour on. Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die. And if you wish to pour me coffee, do so from the Rite Press, a clever hack on the traditional French press that adds a few features that even high-end models don’t have.

The press – which costs $35 for a half-liter model and $40 for the liter model – has hit its goal on Kickstarter and I’ve been able to play with it over the past few weeks. The press features two special features. One is a small, readable thermometer on the plunger that ensures your water temperature is well within the proper range for a good brew. Second, the system includes a magnetic timer that looks like something Hal Solo would use to time his Italian roast.

It also has a very clever removable bottom that lets you clean out the grounds with ease. The Kickstarter ends in thirteen days and they are already well over their goal.

Again, this is some low-tech stuff. You could buy a very basic French press for much less. I particularly like the design here and I suspect we should support the creation of new and unique kitchen gear or else be buried in an avalanche of status quo devices. As a fan of coffee and a fan of good design the RitePress is something I’m happy to get behind.