Space coffee espresso machine, the ISSpresso, delighting astronauts

International Space Station astronauts are delighted to receive their space coffee espresso machine this week, called the ISSpresso, which has been especially designed to make top quality espresso coffee in microgravity environments.

The crew have dubbed it “yesterday’s coffee” because it uses recycled astronaut urine.

NASA informs that the 6th SpaceX cargo mission to the ISS (International Space Station), which is loaded with more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, is carrying the ISSpresso.

When Italian astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Luca Parmitano were at ISS, they commented on the lack of decent coffee in space, which triggered the plan to have an espresso coffee maker in orbit.


ISSpresso is an espresso coffee maker for the ISS that crew members use to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy. (Image: Argotec)

The ISSpresso was designed and created by Italian engineering and software company Argotec, and Italian coffee-machine maker Luigi Lavazza S.p.A., both based in Turin.

Physics of fluid dynamics different in space

According to Argotec, the ISSpresso is the first capsule-based espresso system that can function in the extreme conditions of space, where the principles that regulate fluid dynamics of liquids and mixtures differ considerably from those typical on Earth.


Argotec wrote:

“ISSpresso is a veritable technological and engineering jewel, able to deliver a perfect espresso in weightless environment.”

“This is why it was selected by the Italian Space Agency to be used aboard the ISS, in the framework of the Request for Expression of Interest that the Agency keeps constantly open to public-private partnership projects and activities to be carried out in the ISS.”

ISSpresso’s innovative capsule system does not only make regular espressos, but also caffè lungos and other hot beverages, such as tea, infusions and broth.

ISSpresso engineers say their machine is designed to respond to every scientific and engineering challenge encountered in space. It has overcome the problem of handling liquids at high pressure and temperature in a space environment.

“Just think that the plastic tube carrying the water inside a normal espresso machine has been replaced with a special steel tube designed to withstand pressure of more than 400 bar,” Argotec engineers said.

ISSpresso engineers

The ISSpresso R&D team. (Image: Argotec)

Not only does the machine represent a technologically high-value project, it also increases the variety of flavours in the astronauts’ menu, and will help improve our understanding of the principles of fluid dynamics and conditions in microgravity.

Giuseppe Lavazza, Vice President of Lavazza, said:

“Italian coffee is a beverage without borders, and we have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time. Indeed, as far back as ten years ago we launched the espresso into orbit artistically with the photographs taken by Thierry Le Gouès and our Mission to Espresso calendar, which at the time may have looked like a work of science fiction but was actually just a vision of the future.”

“We are proud to have worked on this major project with Argotec, through the Lavazza Innovation Center, our division dedicated to research and product innovation: a scientific and engineering challenge which we hope will improve the living and nutrition quality of astronauts engaged on long missions.”

Video – ISSpresso, the space coffee maker