Automatic Espresso Loader For Those Late Night Hack Sessions

For [Roy’s] graduate electronics class, he decided to make something that many in and out of the hacking world would certainly love, an automatic espresso loader.  One can choose from three flavors available. In order to accomplish this, a Parralax Propeller board is used to control three servos that regulate the amount of coffee dispensed, chosen by a handy LCD HMI (human machine interface).

After the coffee is dispensed, the chute swings out of the way. A modified inkjet cartridge carrier (from a dead printer) is then used to compact the beans. Check out the video of this machine in action after the break.


Not only is this machine well built with what appears to be a clear polycarbonate shell, It uses other standard hacker fare, including: servos, recycled printer parts, a Parallax processor, and a LCD display. This machine has only been tested with salt so far, and the “valves” are only simple flat plates attached to servos.  This machine is still somewhat of a prototype, but it’s a really neat hack nonetheless.

10 thoughts on “Automatic Espresso Loader For Those Late Night Hack Sessions

  1. Good job. But, as an avid coffee consumer, I doubt an ink-jet rail/motor combination would have the power the compact the coffee enough. Also I want to see the hopper in action, espresso coffee is a fine grind so it is likely that it’ll stick to the pvc piping before reaches to the pot. Just sayin… :)

  2. I bet the tamping is fine, looks like there’s enough momentum from the arm to get that correct.

    But I can see the espresso getting clogged up in the piping. I wonder what the industrial method of handling grounds is… maybe air pressure? Maybe just add a touch of flow agent like Magnesium Stearate…

  3. Thanks guys,
    The compacting actually works well (I tested it with an already loaded pot). As for the flow dynamics, I used flower to simulate the fine-ness of the coffee, and I measured the angle required to prevent it from sticking to the walls. I did actually consider air pressure, but that was too much work for this class ;)

  4. Roy,

    Awesome project. I appreciate the fact that you made an automated mechanism for the espresso process. I also like the fact that you made practical choices so you could actually get a finished product!

    How does the espresso come out?

  5. While it’s nice to see something move, the machine does not deserve its title. Select air flavor one and 3 shots of that, then compact. Imaginary coffee grounds?

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.