Scientists love coffee. More than anyone else, by some surveys. So in a way, it makes perfect sense that they would be responsible for what could be the greatest coffee-related invention since coffee-alcohol: a mug that keeps coffee hot – but not too hot – for hours on end.
Above: A 3-D printed model of the forthcoming "Temperfect" mug, with stainless steel veneer
The vessel is the brainchild of Logan Maxwell and Dean Verhoeven. The idea came to Maxwell in his final year of undergrad at North Carolina State University. For his senior design project, he designed a temperature-regulating coffee mug that happened to be conceptually identical to more sophisticated prototypes that Verhoeven, an engineer, had been working on for years. Around the middle of 2013, a mutual acquaintance introduced the two mug-makers. Together, the pair founded a company – Joeveo – and launched a Kickstarter for their mug, which they call the "Temperfect."
Any old thermos can keep a hot beverage hot, but as anyone whose melted off the roof of their mouth while sipping at a scalding cup of coffee will tell you, hotter is not necessarily better. Maxwell tells io9 the Temperfect mug is engineered to bring scalding beverages to a hot-but-drinkable temperature and keep it there.
"[Drink] anything above 140° [Fahrenheit] and one can risk burns," he tells io9. The Temperfect is designed to bring coffee or tea (which are typically brewed at around 200 °F) to an ideal drinking temperature in about two minutes, and keep it there for hours on end. Compare that to your standard vacuum-insulated mug (which can keep the beverage dangerously hot up to an hour after being filled) or the typical ceramic mug (which cools to quickly to enjoy much longer than maybe 20 minutes):
See the Ahhh...zone? That's where your coffee wants to be. Your conventional insulated mug prevents heat loss by sandwiching a vacuum between two walls. The Temperfect works in a similar fashion, but adds a third wall to the mix. Like a regular thermos, the Temperfect has a vacuum between its outer and middle walls, but between its middle and inner walls is a non-toxic chemical that Maxwell calls "Material X" (labeled in the animation below as "Temperfect insulation") that melts at 140° Fahrenheit. (Maxwell wouldn't tell us what Material X is, but assured us that it is a food-safe, non-toxic substance. "You literally could eat it if you wanted to," he says, "although I'm sure it wouldn't be too tasty."):
At room temperature, Material X is a solid, but pour a hot beverage into the mug and it quickly absorbs any excess heat, becoming a liquid while rapidly dropping the temperature of your brew. The excess heat is stored in Material X, and dissipates back into the coffee as it cools. The so-called "phase change" mug resembles similar prototypes first cooked up in the 1960s that never made it to market due to manufacturing hangups. Verhoeven – who, by the time he met Maxwell six months ago, had already spent years manufacturing, testing and improving prototypes of the mug – solved the manufacturing problem, and, thanks to their wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the pair has more than enough cash to fund the initial production run of their mug, the temperature-time curve of which they say will resemble this recent prototype's:
That's three-hour layover in your beverage's perfect temperature zone. Not too shabby.
You can learn more about the mugs at on Maxwell and Verhoeven's Kickstarter page. It's already well-past funded, but it's your best bet if you want to score a Temperfect from the first production run.
[Via The Abstract]