With Coffee Cookie, MIT Duo Takes Product from Idea to Launch

Published in MIT News on March 30, 2017, by Meg Murphy, School of Engineering

“We really want to make something fun and get it to people fast," says senior Gabe Alba.

With graduation on the horizon, MIT students Gabe Alba and Victoria Gregory have work to do. They have a promising idea, a series of prototypes, and if all goes according to plan, a trendy product that will satisfy a coffee drinker's desire.

Dreamed up two months ago, their device is the Coffee Cookie — a lightweight, circular object that attaches to the bottom of disposable coffee cups. It looks like a sea-blue casino chip but in fact is a battery-operated drink warmer that heats up to 90 degrees Celsius.

Both fourth-year mechanical engineering students, Alba and Gregory conceived of the drink warmer during a class exercise in 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes). Usually, the energy required to keep a drink hot exceeds the battery power capacity for a small portable device, but after conducting an online survey of 300 people, Alba and Gregory found there was a narrower niche to fill. They noted that a number of survey respondents, particularly millennials, tend to abandon takeout coffee when it loses heat, tossing the final third.

“We realized there isn’t a need to keep the drink indefinitely hot,” says Gregory. Making a device that can match the temperature of the coffee and keep it level for just 15 minutes longer, not hours at a time, she says, was a much more achievable task. And thus was born a take-out coffee accessory, which is rechargeable for daily use...