Coffee is a fiddly business. The wrong beans, too much milk, not enough foam, bad crema, and all that stuff. We all have our favourite cup and now Philips has revealed a way it thinks you can get it just right each and every time.
The answer? An iPad app and a Bluetooth coffee machine. That's right. At the IFA electronics show in Berlin the company showed off an adapted version of its Saeco GranBaristo Avanti that can talk to the associated app.
But it's not about making coffee from afar, lazy friends, it's about getting customised cups right and offering more variation than just your base espresso or Americano. We played around with the experimental app to see what we made of it.
Within the app there are stacks of different choices - macchiatto, cappuccino, espresso and beyond - that can be quickly swiped through to select what you want to make. Tap it and you can either get the GranBaristo Avanti to make the cup straight away, or there are customisation options.
It's in customisation that we can see the value of this system. Four sliders allow for the adjustment of temperature, coffee strength, coffee volume and and milk volume. A visual representation of what you're making shows up in real time on screen too and it's possible to save your creation as a favourite. If you've got a particular cup for a Saturday morning - the "hangover hammer" for example, as you're free to name the customised cups as you please - then you can save it ready to go with the press of a button.
Dinner party fans can also whip out their iPad at the table, but not to go through emails. If you want to take orders like any show-off host might, then the app can generate a queue of various concoctions. That way not only will you not need to remember who's having what, your guests can customise their own cups just as they like too. Showpiece.
There are also special coffees - those more unusual ones with multiple additional ingredients - that you might not know how to make. Here the app acts to assist, guiding you step by step while standing next to the Saeco and following the on-screen app instructions. You'll be an app-educated Barista before you know it.
And because Philips obviously couldn't resist it's thrown in some social networking features too. "Mamaccino master", "my coffee's harder than your coffee", or other such absurdities may soon be gracing your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds.
But not yet - this is all prototype stuff that's in the making. It's a fun idea, so long as there are parental controls at the front end. Wouldn't want any little hands unwittingly spraying half a pint of 50C milk around the kitchen while we're sitting in the living room, would we?