While the rest of the world is trying to live more sustainably and find ways to reduce its trash output, LG Labs has put its resources into designing yet another pod-based instant coffee machine with a twist: it actually uses two pods to make a single cup of coffee, doubling the amount of trash generated with every cup brewed.
We’ve explained time and time again why pod-based coffee machines from companies like Keurig and Nespresso are a bad idea. Sure, they’re more convenient than having to manually lift a spoonful of freeze-dried instant coffee and dump it into a mug, but unless you’re using a refillable pod (based on how many varieties of pre-filled pods are available in stores, most users clearly aren’t filling their own) these machines generate a lot of unnecessary trash. And while both brands have worked to ensure their respective pods are fully recyclable, that doesn’t guarantee that all consumers will be responsible enough to dispose of them properly.
LG Labs has decided that what’s more important for the Earth is giving consumers the chance to feel like they’re coffee shop baristas. The Duobo, which looks like a three-legged alien robot, is designed to use two Nespresso-style pods for every cup of coffee it produces, allowing users to mix flavors to create their own custom blends. Using buttons on the Duobo’s base, or a mobile app that wirelessly connects to the coffee maker, users can also adjust the “extraction temperature” of the water and the amount of pressure the machine uses to fine-tune the brew to their preferences.
Somehow, an alien-like design or churning through twice the number of coffee pods per cup isn’t the Duobo’s weirdest feature. The machine’s base includes an LCD screen that’s used to display custom content including coffee-related PSAs, promotions for coffee-related events, and ads for coffee brands, while the user waits for their beverage to brew. Putting screens on appliances isn’t a new idea, there are lots of fridges with the feature, but it’s confusing how it’s been implemented here, as the Duobo’s display is located right where you’re supposed to place your coffee cup to be filled. The display is going to be obscured every time the machine is used, and it’s doubtful anyone’s going to want to hang around it when they’re not seeking a caffeine fix.
That probably explains why this LG Labs creation is making its way to consumers through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, instead of the company churning out thousands that could collect dust on store shelves. Early bird backers of the campaign can pre-order the Duobo, with delivery expected sometime in December, for a hefty $399, which is actually half the expected full retail price of $799. Oof. With most crowdfunded products there’s the risk of nothing ever materializing, or considerable shipping delays, but here it seems like LG Labs is using the platform as a way to gauge interest in the Duobo so the company has a better idea of how many to manufacture. With just 70 backers so far, it doesn’t seem like Keurig has much to worry about.