Updated June 11 12:24 p.m. ET PicoBrew has cancelled its Pico U Kickstarter campaign, despite meeting its goal eight times over, saying it will concentrate on new products such as the instead. PicoBrew said that backers -- who had pledged a total of $435,956 -- will be entitled to a discount on the Pico C ($249). The company says the campaign will relaunch either "in the fall 2018 or during Q1 2019".
PicoBrew just keeps coming out with new devices to make brewing beverages easier. At $299, the Pico U will be the company's most affordable product yet, and also its most feature-packed.
The last PicoBew we tested was the, a $350 beer-centric robot brewer. The Pico U, which was originally supposed to be available in the first quarter of 2019, has a few new tricks: It can brew filtered coffee or pretty much any kind of other brewed drinks, including kombucha, chai and of course, beer. You can even use it as a sous vide machine, too, if you really want.
In May, PicoBrew announced an add-on item for backers of its Pico U Kickstarter campaign that lets you create custom recipes. The Add Your Own Ingredients Kit lets you fill PicoPaks with "herbs, spices, grains and other ingredients" in addition to setting a custom brewing cycle for the new Pico U, as well as existing Pico Model C, and Pico Pro appliances.
As well as being more versatile than the C, the Pico U is also a helluva lot smaller -- now instead of a microwave oven it's the size of a small espresso maker. It operates more like a drip-o-lator when brewing coffee, though. In the new system, the coffee hopper locks in underneath the LCD screen and is a completely removable part. As the coffee grounds don't touch the rest of the system PicoBrew says a thorough clean isn't necessary before using the system for something else.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the U can still accommodate the Pico Packs for brewing beer. The main hopper on the left is a water reservoir used for smaller, instant-style brewing and it can be switched out for the much larger Pico Pack step filter.
The system will be available in two retail versions: the $249 Pico U Basic and the $299 Pico U Deluxe. Since the Deluxe includes the beer-making components -- the large Pico Pack step filter and the beer keg -- it doesn't make much sense to buy the basic version unless you just want an expensive filter coffee maker.
The device comes with internet connectivity and even its own app, and the company says it is in discussions with Amazon and Google about adding voice control to the system. "Alexa, brew me a chipotle double stout!"
I had a brief demo at the CNET office where the company showed off the machine's ability to make coffee, and it worked well. I really appreciated that you could grind your own coffee and weren't tied to the proprietary Pico Pack system. In the past, the device's proprietary nature has been the most polarizing part of PicoBrew.
The Pico U had been live on Kickstarter at $189 for the Deluxe (Basic is $169) which is in line with other (high-end) coffee brewers. Personally I'll wait for the full CNET review to consider buying one, but it's certainly a promising product.
Originally published May 16, 2018.
Update, May 31: Added information about the Add Your Own Ingredients Kit.