Pouch coffee that packs a punch. (Lavazza)

Correction: This article was originally published in November, when the ISSpresso was meant to arrive on ISS, and stated that it would arrive the following weekend. Because of the October Antares explosion, the espresso machine delivery was in fact delayed until April. 

This year, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti will travel to the International Space Station with precious cargo in tow -- a specially designed espresso machine that will produce the authentic Italian brew in zero gravity. In addition to being Italy's first female astronaut to go into space, she'll be the first astronaut in history to sip real espresso while orbiting the Earth.

Until now, the intrepid explorers who circle high above us have had to make do with instant. Those dark days are finally behind us.

ISSpresso was custom-made by LavAzza, an Italian coffee company, along with Argotec, an aerospace firm that specializes in creating space food.

But how does it work?


No baristas needed. (Lavazza)

The machine isn't totally unlike the capsule-based, single-cup makers you can buy on Earth. But it has to stand up to a few orbital brewing issues.

For starters, the whole thing has to be super leak-proof. Nobody wants floating spheres of boiling water in their face, or misplaced coffee grounds finding their way into electrical equipment. Astronauts can't even have regular bread because crumbs could be devastating -- they eat tortillas instead.

So while the tube that carries steaming water only withstands about nine bars of pressure on Earth, the space version can withstand 400 bars. That's about 5,800 pounds of pressure per square inch.

And both the water and the final coffee beverage are contained in the Capri Sun-esque pouches that astronauts slurp all their drinks from, designed to keep liquid from bubbling up and away.

For now, the machine will be sent up with 20 coffee capsules. But if the crew enjoys the brew, more will follow -- as well as capsules for brewing tea and making instant soup.