As Enticing As Soft Serve Ice Cream on Demand Sounds, We Probably Don't Need Another Pod Machine

Illustration for article titled As Enticing As Soft Serve Ice Cream on Demand Sounds, We Probably Dont Need Another Pod Machine
Image: Sigma Phase, Corp.

Despite the spectacular failure of Juicero—a $400 machine that created freshly squeezed juice by squeezing juice-filled pouches—there are still companies willing to bet on pod-based instant food machines. The latest is the ColdSnap which creates on-demand soft serve and other frozen treats if you’ve got another chunk of counter space to sacrifice to pod life.

It’s understandable why companies are still trying to strike gold with the pod-based instant food approach. Last August, Keurig Dr. Pepper anticipated its revenues for 2020 would surpass $11 billion, and while with just a bit more effort anyone can create a cup of coffee at home that far surpasses the quality of what a Keurig machine can brew up; consumers love convenience.

Illustration for article titled As Enticing As Soft Serve Ice Cream on Demand Sounds, We Probably Dont Need Another Pod Machine
Image: Sigma Phase, Corp.
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But the biggest concern with pod and pouch-based instant food machines aren’t the quality of the food or beverages they produce, but the pods and pouches themselves. The machines produce a lot of unnecessary waste, and while coffee pods are usually recyclable or compostable at this point, the process of manufacturing and recycling them still consume resources that don’t need to be expended just for the sake of convenience when you’re half awake in the morning.

Instead of coffee or ‘fresh’ juice, the ColdSnap creates single-serving portions of frozen treats including soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice coffees, smoothies, “healthy shakes,” slushies, and even cocktails in anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds. It’s kind of like having one of McDonald’s ice cream dispenser and a 7-11 Slurpee machine in your kitchen for your own personal use—admittedly, a very tempting pitch—but as pod-based machines go, the ColdSnap demands more kitchen real estate than most.

Illustration for article titled As Enticing As Soft Serve Ice Cream on Demand Sounds, We Probably Dont Need Another Pod Machine
Image: Sigma Phase, Corp.
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Not only is the ColdSnap machine much larger than a Keurig, but the pods it uses are as large as a can of hard seltzer. They’re shelf-stable which means the cans and the ingredients don’t need to be refrigerated, but they’ll still be fighting your cans of LaCroix and White Claw for space in your pantry.

There’s no pricing information yet as the ColdSnap is launching with a limited beta rollout in the Boston area this summer, but you can expect the machine to be priced several hundred dollars given its ability to rapidly freeze ingredients in less than two minutes—plus the cost of the single-serve pods. Will it be worth the cost? Again, the biggest selling point here is convenience, but for less than $100 you can get an ice cream maker that churns out frozen treats in about 20 minutes from the ingredients already in your fridge and cupboards. With a little patience, you can probably save yourself a lot of money and a recycling bin full of discarded pods.

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DISCUSSION

DaddyRoundRound
DaddyRoundRound

As someone who started making ice cream at home (holy shit, that sounds pompous) it definitely takes more than 20 minutes to do it. The actual churn time may be only 20-30 minutes, but that’s presuming you already have a frozen bowl to churn in, and an ice cream base that is at least fridge temp. If you’re making a custard based ice cream, or if you have to cook ingredients at all, it takes a whole hell of a lot longer. If you don’t keep your bowl in the freezer at all times (which I don’t because it takes a lot of space), you need to plan for that 24 hours in advance. If you have a compressor based machine, it can be churned up in about an hour if you start with a cold base. The most convenient part of this machine isn’t the ability to churn at home —that’s basically set it and forget it— it’s the cans of premade base. That’s where the real time and effort is spent making good ice cream.