Brewing your own beer has traditionally required a bit of an investment of funds, space, and time, but a new gadget promises to make it more accessible than ever — while also allowing you to brew kombucha, soda, tea, coffee, and other beverages.
Crafted in Seattle, Washington, the Pico U is an all-in-one “universal brewing machine,” fitting onto your countertop as easily as a coffee maker. It comes in two models: the Pico U (Basic), which brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages like horchata, and the Pico U (Deluxe), which brews all of that plus beer, kombucha, and dry soda. If you can dream it, you can drink it, the makers say, listing off possibilities ranging from a yerba mate afternoon pick-me-up to a crisp lemon cilantro soda.
Just want a cup of coffee? Add in fresh grounds, and you’ll have your beverage in hand within 90 seconds (as fast as a Keurig). Naturally, the process is a little more complex for craft beer, but it’s still beginner-friendly. You use the Pico U’s “Beer Editor” to choose from a library of recipes or create your own. Then, add your grains to the mash bin, place your hops and other flavorings into the “Hops Pack,” and clip the lid onto the “PicoPak,” the bin of ingredients that slots into the machine. You can even buy an accessory keg to brew up to 1.9 gallons at a time.
You can use all the fresh and locally sourced ingredients you want, or you can order pre-filled “PicoPaks” online, which show up at your door ready to brew. These ingredient bundles are fully compostable and easy to customize if you want to add a dash of vanilla to your cold brew or mint to your soda. The PicoPak containers are made from 100-percent bagasse (sugar cane husk pulp.) You can buy as few or as many PicoPaks at a time as you want.
“Pico U creates rich and flavorful beverages using precise temperature control,” explain the creators. “The thermal block takes water from the reservoir and brings it from room temp up to a customizable temperature. Water is distributed evenly over the top of the coffee, first blooming the grounds, then completing the brew for perfect results every time. When you load a PicoPak or PicoPak Mini into your Pico U, it sends the brewing mixture to the right place at the right time to accurately follow your preprogrammed recipe. The Pico U’s multi-flow-manifold allows second-to-second control of what ingredients get infused into the brew.”
“With up to four stages in one recipe, Pico U can use high heat and flow rates to extract rich flavors, and then mellow things out to tease out subtle aromas without overheating delicate ingredients. This powerful feature enables a multi-stage hops boil while brewing beer and empowers a world of creativity when brewing fusion beverages, from infused coffees and teas to kombucha and beyond.”
While it’s certainly true that there are simpler ways to brew all of these beverages, you don’t often find a way to do so much all at once using the same piece of equipment. Plus, brewing these beverages at home saves an awful lot of disposable packaging, from coffee shop cups to glass beer bottles. If you’re a big beer, coffee, tea, and soda drinker, the $199-$229 Pico U could pay for itself pretty quickly. If you miss out on backing the Pico U on Kickstarter, you should keep an eye on the project page for future pre-order opportunities.
Update: As of June 8th, crowdfunding for the Pico U has been postponed. Be sure to check back with us for the latest news on this incredible home brewing machine.