This Molecular Drinks Printer Is Straight Out Of Star Trek

Depictions of the current millennium in old sci-fi movies don't always line up with reality (the skies have yet to be crowded with hovercrafts), but every so often, an innovation comes along that feels like it came from Hollywood's vision of the future. In this case, it's a machine that "prints" beverages. Created by the California-based startup Cana, which prides itself on its eco-friendly production method, Engadget reports that the "molecular beverage printer" Cana One uses a single flavor cartridge to mix "thousands of different beverages," including juice, soft drinks, iced coffee, sports drinks, wine, and cocktails.

Serious "Star Trek" fans might liken the invention to the beverage dispenser in the mess hall of Enterprise NX-01, which provided crew members with coffee, tea, and — as shown in a scene from the show's first season — martinis. But the Cana One might be even more impressive. Rather than your standard Keurig, whose early models require single-use coffee pods, the Cana One will "automatically replace ingredient cartridges" each month, per Engadget, meaning customers will pay for the service "on a per-drink basis." 

The company claims to have "identified and isolated the specific trace compounds that drive flavor and aroma for thousands of unique commercially available beverages," which is how the machine creates so many drinks from a "universal ingredient set," reports Food & Wine. The machine will even allow users to control the levels of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol in their drinks with a child-proof PIN.

Preorders are open for 2023 delivery

If you want to get your hands one of these babies, patience is key. As of this week, customers can reserve their Cana One with a $99 down payment, which will be deducted from the total price of $499 for the first 10,000 orders, and $799 for the next batch of orders, per Food & Wine. The machine's expected delivery date? 2023. However, because customers will pay by the drink and not by the cartridge, it's possible that the cost of Cana One's respective offerings will go up with inflation. Prices are currently $0.29 for a sparkling water, $0.79 for an iced tea, and $2.99 for a craft cocktail, but they may be higher next year. "If at any point Cana goes belly up," notes Food & Wine, "you're out the sunk cost of the machine."

That said, Cana One sounds pretty cool. "It's like having a personalized beverage aisle in your kitchen — with zero trash or hassle from plastic, aluminum, and glass containers," says CEO Matt Mahar. However, only time will tell if the beverage machine of the future lives up to the hype.