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Loka Chai Maker

Industrial/Product Design

Industrial design of an innovative new device for making chai easily at home.

Masala chai is a common beverage that originates from South Asia that has conquered the world. It’s made by boiling loose leaf black tea in milk and water with spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. It has become a popular drink globally and is considered to be rich in antioxidants and beneficial for immunity and digestion.

It can be problematic and time consuming to make traditional masala chai at home, as it needs to be made on the hob using a saucepan. The process is messy and labour intensive—it requires standing over the pot as it’s easy for the chai mixture to boil over and cleaning up afterwards can be challenging, with the chai mixture going everywhere.

Loka set out to address a gap in the market for a home chai maker that works as seamlessly as a stove-top moka coffee pot. The challenge was to address four key problems; the time taken to make and requirement for constant monitoring, the potential for the mix to boil over, the ability to pour the chai easily and strain the liquid from the tea and spices, and to limit the amount of cleaning up required.

Working with Loka founders Anish Shonpal and Nikhil Shah alongside Loka’s in-house engineering lead Andrew Aitken, the design team identified more than ten potential engineering approaches and methods for making masala chai at home. The routes took inspiration from existing chai culture, South Asian design and coffee and tea making machines.

Through extensive prototyping, the team evaluated Through extensive prototyping, the team evaluated the different approaches and identified a potential innovation after observing the masala chai mix boiling from the outside of the vessel inwards in one of the prototypes with a conical top. This significantly reduced the potential for boiling over and also contributed to the brewing process. Loka calls this patent-pending brewing process the ‘Chai Fountain.’

The design and materiality references both classic South Asian cooking equipment and modern technology, with a distinctive silhouette and an ergonomic handle that was designed to blend into the overall form. the different approaches and identified a potential innovation after observing the masala chai mix boiling from the outside of the vessel inwards in one of the prototypes with a conical top. This significantly reduced the potential for boiling over and also contributed to the brewing process. Loka calls this patent-pending brewing process the ‘Chai Fountain.’

The resultant design makes it incredibly easy to make chai. The milk, water and chai mix for 550ml of chai are poured directly into the top of the assembled device and it is placed on a gas, electric or induction hob. Once the mixture reaches boiling point the ‘Chai Fountain’ starts. The conical top provides a clear view of the brewing process so users can monitor the desired brewing colour and therefore flavour and stop the boil at any point. The chai can be poured immediately as the design of the strainer automatically filters the chai mix. The precise curve of the rim allows drip-free pouring from any direction and the top and bottom parts can be separated easily with a half twist for cleaning. The Chai Maker is made from durable 304 grade stainless steel with a toxin-free ceramic non-stick coating and is dishwasher safe.

The design and materiality references both classic South Asian cooking equipment and modern technology, with a distinctive silhouette and an ergonomic handle that was designed to blend into the overall form. The Loka Chai Maker has now been launched on Kickstarter.

Client
Loka
Sector
Food & Drink
Discipline
Industrial/Product Design
Office
London
Partner
Jon Marshall
Project team
Chifen Cheng
Shing Lo
Amelia Kociolkowska
Vincent Fan
Harc Lee
Pablo Bustamante
Collaborators
Andrew Aitken (engineering)
Nick Rochowski (photography)
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