The world loves great coffee. And since members of that world can't always be at home or inside their favorite coffee shops, they have brought us a number of ways to make coffee on the move. Some of them, like the Nomad and Handpresso Auto, do espresso. The all-new Fuse takes portable espresso making one step farther, relying on a series of twist-on modules to bring you all the way from roasted bean to foamy latte. Or at least it might if its crowdfunding campaign soars.
The Fuse is the result of one particularly ardent coffee lover's search for an elusive fix. Working as a petroleum field engineer in distant corners of rural Asia, Fuse CEO Kenneth Chai didn't have regular access to the clean water, coffee beans and electricity he needed to make espresso the way he was used to. He began to get creative, at one point going so far as to smuggle a coffeemaker across the border. Eventually, he realized it was time to innovate a better way.
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That better way is the modular Fuse portable espresso maker. The heart of the system is the 1-lb (450-g), 4.8 x 3.1-in (122 x 80-mm) press. This portable hand press relies on a manual plunger to transform hot water into espresso, and Chai tells us that the user can easily exert 5 to 6 bar (73 to 87 psi) of pressure before the release valve sends the espresso cascading into a cup. Coffee strength can be adjusted with a twist of the chamber.
That press module requires that you already have ground coffee, but if you add the burr grinder attachment, you can start with whole beans. It secures over the coffee chamber so the coffee grounds fall right into place. You can then remove the grinder, quickly reassemble the press and make your espresso.
Bangkok-based Fuse hopes to reach out to latte lovers, too, and is working on a milk frother module, essentially a cup with a built-in battery-powered, spin-action foamer. The idea is for the cup to secure under the press so that the espresso pours right into it.
The frother is still in the early development stages and is not yet a working concept, which is why Fuse's "latte" video shows a handheld foamer being used. The frother is listed as a stretch goal in Fuse's Indiegogo campaign. Other battery-operated modules that Fuse says are in development include an electric press and an electric grinder.
As mentioned, we've seen a number of portable espresso makers over the years. We've even seen one with an accompanying portable milk frother. There's also the Korean Cafflano Klassic, an all-in-one grinder/pour-over coffeemaker, which took home a Gold Award at last week's OutDoor Show in Germany. While each is interesting in its own right, those others fall short of Fuse's ultimate vision of a modular portable system to take you from whole bean to foamy latte.
The next big step in seeing that vision through is Fuse's Indiegogo campaign, where the brewing module is available for pledge levels starting at US$42. The grinder was originally only a stretch goal, but Fuse added a limited number in a campaign update. It's available in a package with the press for $99. The frother, however, is still tied into a $40K stretch goal. If everything moves along as Fuse hopes, the first brewer units will ship out in December.
The video shows the grinder and press in action.