Nestle’s popular Nespresso machines can already slake your need for caffeine with surprisingly decent cappuccinos. Before long, they might also serve up a custom blend of vitamins and minerals that will eliminate the need for food altogether.
Nestle’s researchers are working on tools to analyze a person’s levels of essential nutrients in order to deliver custom-blended drinks that are tailored to individual deficiencies—a little extra vitamin D here, an extra dash of magnesium there—for a program code-named “Iron Man.” The goal is to eventually create a Nespresso-like device that brews up everything a body needs.
“In the past, food was just food. We’re going in a new direction,” said Ed Baetge, director of Nestle’s Institute of Health Sciences, in an interview with Bloomberg.
The program has a distinctly utopian whiff to it, much like Soylent, the “open-sourced nutritional drink” that was developed by a Silicon Valley software engineer who got tired of chewing his food. A recent spate of reviews have questioned the desirability of replacing actual food with a monochrome liquid that apparently tastes like raw pancake batter; the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo called Soylent a “punishingly boring, joyless product.”
Nevertheless, Nestle, which earlier this year lost its monopoly on making Nespresso capsules, has high hopes for its customized nutrient beverage, with more than 100 of its researchers investigating links between vitamin and mineral deficiencies and diseases like diabetes and cancer. Other experts in the field are dubious, in part because of the cost. With full nutritional work-ups currently priced at more than $2,000 per person, imagine how much those little Nespresso capsules will cost.