Jul 24, 2013

Tired? A Yawn-Activated Coffee Machine can help


Facial recognition software is becoming more widely utilized as companies look to read consumers better and deliver products that we might need. For instance, there are cameras that can detect when people are smiling so that they always get the correct moment for a photo. And one coffee company is experimenting with the technology to deliver coffee to people when they need it the most.

Douwe Egberts has designed a coffee machine equipped with facial recognition software that will dispense coffee to anyone it detects yawning. The machine was set up at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport as a marketing event for the Dutch coffee company earlier this year, dispensing free cups of coffee to tired travelers who yawned in front of the machine. By the looks of the video below, people got a real kick out of the machine, so keep your eyes peeled for one the next time you’re traveling and in need of a little pick-me-up!

Jul 21, 2013

Homemade Rocky Road Ice Blended

Homemade Rocky Road Ice Blended

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has a couple of new drinks out this summer, including a Birthday Cake Ice Blended in honor of their 50th anniversary and a Rocky Road Ice Blended. Since rocky road is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, I knew that I had to give that one a try as soon as I heard about it. The in-store version of the drink was on-target. It tasted like rocky road ice cream and even had a note of walnut in it, although the drink itself didn’t have pieces of walnut or marshmallow like the ice cream does. It also had a nice coffee note that made it taste like an ice blended and not melted ice cream.

I was tempted to put ice cream into this Homemade Rocky Road Ice Blended, but wanted to make sure it stayed an ice blended drink and didn’t turn into a milkshake. It’s actually simple to make: a mocha ice blended with walnuts added to it. The walnuts add a nice nuttiness and blend up very finely in the drink, so you don’t get chunks of nut. It’s a little more refreshing than a milkshake (thanks to the coffee!) but it captures the essence of the ice cream flavor. I garnished mine with a marshmallow, but whipped cream would do the trick, too. Continue reading »

Jul 17, 2013

Scientists create a coffee cup for space

Space Coffee
All kinds of tasks that we take for granted every day are a real challenge to astronauts, who are trying to live and work in an environment with no up, down or sideways. One everyday task is drinking coffee. It can be difficult to prepare coffee in space, but it can be even more difficult to drink from a coffee cup. The action of drinking from a coffee cup is the result of gravity holding that coffee in that vessel – something that isn’t easy to replicate in space. But a simple thing like drinking from that coffee cup can be a familiar and soothing thing for someone out in space, which is why scientists set out to see if they could design a coffee cup that could be used in space.

The cup looks like a bag, with one very sharp crease in the side. When liquid is pumped into the bag, it becomes trapped at the end of the bag, then naturally pools along the sharp crease – not because of gravity, but because of a phenomenon known as capillary action. You could easily sip the coffee from the corner of the “cup” that the coffee collects against – no gravity required.

Space Coffee Cup

Jul 13, 2013

Honest Tea markets tea with honesty

Honest Tea

Honest Tea is out to find the most honest city in America as part of a new ad campaign for their line of bottled teas. For the campaign, they will be setting up displays of bottled teas in 62 cities across all 50 states. The displays will feature shelves and shelves of tea and signs that read “$1 each” – but the catch is that there will be no person there to collect the money. Instead, the booths will have drop boxes for dollars and operate on the honor system, allowing people to drop their payment into a box without anyone prompting them to.

The little social experiment is meant for nothing other than promotional purposes, and Honest Tea will have people stationed inconspicuously near the displays to take notes on how consumers interact with the display, as well as noting how much tea is, or is not, paid for.

So far, the company reports that the vast majority of tea – around 90% – is paid for by consumers, many of whom are worried abut being watched by hidden camera or otherwise “getting caught” for taking the tea without paying.  How the rest of the experiment plays out, we’ll just have to wait and see.


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