With ease and convenience in coffee appliances often comes an all-or-nothing attitude. Either the machine works and everything is cool, or there is a minor malfunction and the entire unit gets tossed in the garbage. There are exceptions of course; Baratza, for instance, has historically been very user friendly when it comes to making home grinder repairs. But by and large, the more bells and whistles, the less fixable.
But a new espresso machine by appliance designer Thomas Mair looks to make repairs easy even for those non-technically adept. Modular, recyclable, and 3D printable, the Kara is made to stay on the countertop and not end up in a landfill.
As reported by Designboom, the Kara requires no specialized tools or know-how in order to repair. The easy to disassemble design breaks down the primary inner workings of the espresso machine into three modular components: the thermoblock, the water pump, and the flow meter. Each has its own plug-in power supply and are connected via plastic tubes that can be removed by hand. If any of the parts wears out, you can scan its QR code on the back to order a replacement, and you simply disconnect the broken piece, slide it out of its housing, and recycle it. The machine’s shell is open source and 3D printable, so those with access to a 3D printer can just make the part they need.
“How we treat electronics is fundamentally broken. When an appliance breaks, instead of fixing it we replace it. When we do, it’s estimated that only one fifth of electric goods actually get recycled. This is not, and cannot be sustainable,” the Eindhoven, Netherlands-based designer states on his website. “Kara is a coffee machine that should be seen as a new standard for how to design domestic appliances, and shows an alternative way of designing and building electronics. One that looks at the entire life cycle, that encourages maintenance and repairability, and that focuses on keeping as many resources as possible out of landfill.”
Still a prototype, the Kara espresso machine is not on the market, but was recently exhibited as part of Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. Nonetheless, it represents an exciting rethinking of coffee appliances and how to not only prolong their lifecycle but ensure they are disposed of responsibly.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
All media via Thomas Mair