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This Machine Prints Selfies on Your Coffee

A Tel Aviv company has developed a machine that prints high resolution images—including your latest Instagram selfie—onto foam-topped drinks. Who wouldn’t want to drink a cappuccino with a duck pout?
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
Photo courtesy Coffee Ripples.

It's an unreasonably grey Tuesday morning. You slept through your alarm and your housemate used the last of your nice shampoo. The only thing that can possibly transform you into a functioning human being with the ability to communicate via anything other than death stares is an extra hot Americano, made by your favourite non-talkative barista. And right now, please.

But as you desperately grasp at your cup, what's that staring up at you from the foam? A wonky attempt at a #latteart leaf? Globules of curdled soy milk? Worse. Your own face, peering back at you like a frothy brown mirror.

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Welcome to the very near future, guys. The selfie-obsessed world in which we live has given rise to The Ripple Maker, a machine that uses 3D printing technology to print high resolution images—including your latest Instagram pic—onto foam-topped drinks.

Developed by a Tel Aviv company, the machine is programmed with a catalogue of designs and messages ready to be printed onto hot beverages, as well as connecting to an app that allows more narcissistically minded customers to upload their own photos. The company claims it takes less than ten seconds for an image to be printed onto the coffee using only natural coffee extract.

Of course, it's not the first time humans have felt compelled to put their face on something they're about to ingest. Earlier this year, a Bristol-based design firm celebrated Pancake Day by creating a disproportionately complicated device to layer batter into their own likenesses and who didn't mark Easter 2k15 with a personalised chocolate death mask?

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While the thinking behind The Ripple Maker is nothing new, it's probably the most expensive 3D printing device of its kind. At $999 (£634) and a monthly subscription fee, you'd have to really love selfies (wedding anniversary gift inspo, Kanye?) to invest. The company's promotional video of hand-holding pensioners gadding about over personalised froth suggests the machine is probably aimed at big coffee chains looking to capture the neighbourhood cafe vibe. German airline Lufthansa has reportedly already ordered several for its first class lounge. (Because nothing whiles away time spent waiting for a delayed flight like drinking cappuccinos with duck pouts).

But The Ripple Machine's real potential may lie elsewhere. Anyone looking to curtail their caffeine habit need only brand their usual morning latte with their least flattering, immediately untagged, sweaty-fringed party photo. Even the most hardcore coffee addict would have trouble swallowing that.