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The future of the connected kitchen is just a push of a button away

Working from home has changed my routines. Now more than ever, I’m using delivery services such as GrubHub, Seamless, and UberEats, not only because I’m strapped for time to make myself something to eat, but because it’s so convenient. Time is money, so the more time I’m able to procure, the better. But here’s the thing: There’s a lot of time spent just waiting.

Keurig machines have been showing us a level of convenience when it comes to brewing coffee, but the market for consumables that come in pod form is slowly expanding to other areas in recent years such as beer, tea, and cocktails. Now you can include desserts on that short list. Stuck at home due to the ongoing pandemic has made me realize that the smart home’s expansion into the kitchen space will only be quantified by the convenience of pod-based consumable goods. They save time and offer convenience at the push of a button.

During CES 2021, I was introduced to the ColdSnap — a countertop-sized small appliance that serves up ice cream, frozen yogurt, smoothies, and more in an instant. It seems like a brilliant idea, all things considered. I recently spoke with Matthew Fonte, ColdSnap’s president, who offered insights into the future of the kitchen with the help of smart appliances like ColdSnap.

The premise is simple, a Keurig-like process that can serve up these frosty treats through pods, which in this case is a Red Bull-sized can. You pop in your flavor, press a button, and then watch it dispense with a push of a button. The foundation of the smart home is built on this premise of convenience and simplicity, and the ColdSnap fulfills this to the teeth.

“If you can make something that’s convenient, there’s no preparation, that’s very healthy, there’s no cleanup, and get it on demand when you want it, I think people will pay for it,” said Fonte. Given how K-Cups have proven successful, it comes as no shock that this strategy is being leveraged in other areas. The Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig is an example of this, which whips up craft cocktails at home without the need for a professional bartender.

This trend isn’t going away any time soon, evident in the many smart small appliances released in the last couple of years that follow this strategy. The Bartesian is yet another connected small appliance that serves up cocktails, while the BeerMKR allows anyone at home to brew batches of their favorite beers. The appeal for these connected beverage and dessert makers will only be enhanced as they become more personalized.

“If you can make it custom, convenient, and sustainable, I think there will be a market for it. I think that’s the trend,” explained Fonte on the trends he anticipates coming. “The whole idea is personalization. If you want a vanilla ice cream, then say someone else wants chocolate ice cream, everyone can have their respective flavors whenever they want.”

Fonte went on to talk about another indirect positive aspect of the ColdSnap that’s not often mentioned: Its potential to impact our environment. He points out how refrigerators are used to chill beverages and other perishable consumables, which are obviously using energy to keep them operating. The ColdSnap, much like these other beverage makers, doesn’t need to be constantly powered on. Instead, they’re indirectly proposing the idea of reducing our carbon footprint by using them only when they’re needed.

“What we’re proposing is just freeze it when you need it and eliminate that entire whole cold supply chain.” It’s a poignant statement when you think about the broader picture of how manufacturers produce and store these goods. Storing these pods at room temperature as opposed to keeping them chilled in the fridge does introduce the idea that they’re environmentally responsible.

Even though the ColdSnap isn’t yet commercially available for purchase, the company intends to roll out a beta launch this summer in the greater Boston area. Right now, it seems as though the focus is on the commercial space — more so when the machine itself costs around $1,000 as Fonte detailed. Yes, that price certainly limits its reach, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a consumer-friendly model available in the future. When you package convenience and personalization into the premise, it’s a recipe that’s sure to attract consumer attention.

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