Lasers Can Cold Brew Coffee in Mere Minutes

There’s a saying in science: Safety first, coffee second. The importance of caffeine in scientific breakthroughs cannot be overstated. So it makes sense that some of those breakthroughs would end up being about coffee. In this case, researchers determined that laser-brewed coffee has all the benefits of cold brew, without all that pesky waiting. The image below shows the before, during, and after shots of using green laser beams to make coffee.

Three cups of coffee in tall transparent glasses. The first contains coffee grounds and cold water, the second glows green with lasers, and the third is filtered and a brown color
Ziefuß, A.R. et al, 2022, npj Science of Food

The experiment makes me question whether it all started because the team got a cool laser and started using it for everything. Including their morning, late morning, and afternoon caffeine fixes. It’s an interesting enough concept, but it is also the scientific method in its pure form. People have a question, a theory, and go through the steps to test it and make a conclusion. The team determined that the laser brew’s acidity is similar to cold-brewed coffee and much lower than that made with boiling water. They published their data in the peer-reviewed journal npj Science of Food.

The laser experiment, which we heard about on DesignTAXI, used picosecond lasers, meaning they flash at an interval one trillionth of a second long. Tattoo removal and cosmetic skin treatments already use this technology. So while your local Starbucks won’t end up looking like a J. Lo video from the ’90s, it is also not that far off. I can’t wait to see laser coffee on a menu!

A green laser shines a beam and reflects off a surface

Until laser coffee is approved and commercialized, there are still many ways to liven up your coffee. You could order it for delivery by drone. Or enjoy it added to Coca-Cola and even caffeinated breakfast cereal. And don’t forget about glitter cappuccinos.  

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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