As technology advances, we see how machines are capable of applying improvements to almost any process in any sector. The hotel and catering industry and coffee are no exception, of course. And one of the most recent innovations comes from latte art printers or coffee printers. Sophisticated devices that are able to scan any image, even in real-time, and print it on the milk foam layer of your coffee.
Not even the most skilled barista can match the results of such a machine.
Coffee printers are not yet widely marketed in Europe but are very popular in other areas of the world. In Japan, for example, which is always at the forefront of technology, it is not difficult to find a coffee shop where you can have a coffee made with your own face. That’s how it sounds.
And on Amazon, you can already find some copies of coffee printers. Perhaps more oriented to coffee shops, since their price is still high, but with all the functions and features that we could wish to explore this art at home.
These are some of the coffee printers that you can currently find for sale on Amazon:
A really personalized coffee? A printer to draw on the coffee? An image was taken in real-time and reproduced on your cup in a matter of seconds? None of this is unreal or impossible: welcome to the exciting world of Latte Art Printers!
To get to know them better, let’s take a closer look at two of the models of Internet coffee printers currently available on Amazon.
The first of the coffee photo printers we are going to evaluate is called CafeMaker 3D. It has the approximate size of an espresso machine and is of Chinese origin.
For the recognition of the images (and their subsequent translation into the drawing on the coffee), the CafeMaker printer uses a mobile and tablet application that is completely free (updates are free). So, the printer is expensive, but the updates and ink are quite cheap. The bulk of the investment is made at the beginning.
It uses edible ink for printing, which we can find in any shop that specialises in gastronomy. They can be acquired in cartridges similar to those of any printer.
The Cafemaker 3D printer is available in two versions: with or without a tablet. The difference in price between both is much higher than the cost of a normal tablet, but you know how these things are. Let’s now talk about its dimensions: 41 x 43 x 47 cm, 18 kilos in weight, and a printing resolution of 600 x 600 dpi (dots per inch).
It is capable of printing drawings at a maximum size of 11 x 11 cm, and it admits cups or glasses between 8 and 18 cm high.
Here you can see in more detail how the CafeMaker coffee printer works. Just send it any image you have on your mobile phone, or and in just over 10 seconds, it will have a cup of coffee ready with the chosen drawing:
Mokka 3D coffee printer
The Mokka latte art printer is quite similar to the above, both in terms of aesthetics and performance and also in price. The operation is also the same: it detects objects via a mobile phone, uses normal, everyday edible ink and also originates from China.
It is a very versatile instrument, which in addition to coffee cups, can also print on biscuits, milk or other foodstuffs of approximately that shape and size.
This Mokka 3D coffee printer has two models for sale: one with a white casing and one in brown, which matches the typical shades of the coffee world very well. Here are some of its specifications and main features:
- Maximum printing resolution: 1440 x 720 DPI.
- Automatic height adjustment.
- Ink capacity: 20 ml in the tank.
- Admits cups or glasses with a minimum height of 8 cm, and a maximum of 20.
- Dimensions: 42 x 43 x 46 cm.
- Printer weight: 16 kg.
What is a coffee printer for?
Coffee printers (or coffee art printers) are used to reproduce photographs or scanned objects impossible to make by hand using traditional latte art techniques.
The most common models have an integrated scanning device, capable of capturing an image (for example, a photograph, an illustration, or even a photo of you in real-time), and printing it with total accuracy on the coffee cup using coffee extract – an equivalent to the classic edible ink used in baking.
This is explained here by one of the managers of Ripples, one of the strongest latte art printers in recent times:
How does a coffee printer work?
Let’s not get into technicalities, but the concept of buying a coffee imager is similar to that of a normal printer: a print head distributes the ink (edible, in this case) over a surface that is a layer of milk foam instead of paper.
The crux of the matter is how or where the printer gets the image it needs to draw. Because what is most striking at first is the speed with which you can send the machine any photograph of your mobile, or even take a picture at that very moment, and have it ready in your drink within seconds.
This is achieved thanks to the connectivity with a mobile phone or a tablet. For this reason, all coffee printers use some software or app that serves as a communication interface with the user.
Here is an example of the Ericoffee coffee printer, another of the professional coffee printers that are now being sold outside of general online shops.
Edible ink printers
Coffee printers (latte art printers) and edible ink printers are not the same, although they are similar in the concept of scanning and reproducing drawings on food.
Edible ink printers, or food ink, are used mainly in baking to produce large drawings or illustrations that are mainly used to decorate cakes and pies. In addition to using multi-coloured edible ink, edible ink printers use edible paper (wafer paper or rice paper).
This is the main difference between the two: coffee printers print directly on the beverage, while edible printers print on an edible paper.
If you want to buy an edible ink printer from Amazon, the best thing to do is to choose one of these starter kits:
Please note that a coffee shop or bar printer (used to decorate coffee cups or beer with coloured foam) is not the same as an edible ink printer, which is similar to the ones we use at home and which uses a special food-grade ink as we have seen in the gallery above.
Is it worth buying a coffee printer?
We are writing this article for a date when coffee latte printers are becoming fashionable and entering the market. Frankly, their price and functionality we understand that they are not suitable for home use. As a curiosity, it is all very well, but why would anyone want to have such a device at home and use it every day?
So, we understand that buying an online coffee printer is only a good idea for businesses or coffee shops that really want to distinguish themselves from their competitors. These types of gadgets are rarely seen, and surely using one can surprise your customers and make you stand out from other businesses.
The best coffee printer at the moment is The Ripple Maker’s Coffee Ripples, which even has a version to print on beer. But they don’t sell it to individuals or caterers, but only to reputable hospitality businesses. This gives us a good measure of the future focus of coffee printers in our industry.