An Indestructible Coffee Machine for Extreme Caffeine
A promotional video for the Coffeeboxx shows it being thoroughly abused: It rattles around the bed of a pickup, falls victim to a shower of steel parts, is placed under a Jeep—and, finally, gets blown 20 feet into the air with explosives before returning to earth in one piece. “Made beyond rugged to deliver in the harshest environments,” the narrator says. “Built for those who bring it.” But who needs to bring it to a blast zone?
Thousands of people, apparently. In December, 4,500 Coffeeboxxes were sold, quadruple the number in any month since the product was introduced in April 2015. “It didn’t take long before customers were raving,” says Robert Wilburn, online associate merchant for Home Depot Inc., which sells the machines for $200.
Inventor Jim Doan, 41, began thinking about a durable coffee maker in 2007, during a building boom in his St. Joseph, Mich., neighborhood. “Every job site had a microwave and several coffee makers. And they were all destroyed,” he says. Doan, then a designer for Whirlpool Corp., began tinkering with ideas for a coffee maker that could withstand the demands of a construction site.
After 30 prototypes, he settled on one in 2014. He ran a Kickstarter campaign that ultimately let him buy a $350,000, 10-ton mold to shape a plastic chassis. The frame is wrapped with more plastic and steel, and the seams are sealed with silicone, making the 12-pound box dustproof. A cup of joe brews in just under two minutes using water from a 2.5-liter tank, a retractable 3-foot power cord, and a single-serve pod.
The industrial-grade engineering has helped attract service members, firefighters, campers, and hunters—the same groups who helped Yeti Coolers LLC, the Austin-based cooler manufacturer, become a $500 million company. Doan thinks OXX Inc., Coffeeboxx’s parent company, can reach $100 million in sales in seven years by building out the “rugged appliance category.” He’s referring to microwaves, icemakers, and refrigerators, the last of which, presumably, has to be called the Chillboxx.