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Launch HN: Bottomless (YC W19) – Coffee Restocked with a Smart Scale
135 points by seizethecheese 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 253 comments
Hello, HN! We're Michael and Liana, co-founders of Bottomless (https://bottomless.com)

Bottomless automatically re-stocks coffee using a smart scale. Users leave their coffee on the scale, then we detect the perfect time to trigger re-orders. We ship the scale for free when customers buy their first bag.

We met in college, and bonded over talking about businesses we could build together. You could say we've kept in touch since then: we're now married. Bottomless was born out of our frustration managing our household stock levels. We always seemed to be running out of one thing or another.

When we thought about it, we realized that restocking was a universal problem.

But if this was such a big problem, why was there no great solution? Subscriptions should be a solution, but they don’t work well for items that aren’t used on a set schedule. It seemed that if we could capture data on usage and stock levels in a passive way, we could solve the problem. Thus, Bottomless, the concept, was born.

The market for stuff people repeatedly buy is enormous. (We'll leave an exact estimate up to the reader's imagination.) We decided that to start we'd establish a beachhead with a single market. We landed on selling premium coffee because it's cheap to ship and has good margins. It also is much better shipped straight from the roaster than bought at the grocery store.

In the beginning, we built the simplest thing possible to test if the concept would work. We hacked together a scale prototype, made five of them and got them into the hands of friends. We bought coffee from roaster websites with our customers’ addresses to bootstrap supply.

The goal was to test if people would leave their coffee on a scale, and if we could reorder at the right time. It turns out they would and we could!

Since then, it's been a matter of making larger batches of scales. We bought a few 3D printers and acquired quite a few burned fingers from soldering.

We've benefited from a few technological tailwinds. For one, smartphone supply chain has driven down the cost of components quite a bit. We've been able to build hardware that works for this business model out of super cheap WiFi modules and LiPos. Also, the level of open source software for ML is quite powerful and well-documented.

We're aware that we are just scratching the surface of re-ordering hardware. We'd be interested to hear ideas that the community might have about this space!






My initial reaction to this post was very dismissive. I was ready to jump into the comments and nod along with everyone else shitting all over it.

But, I don't want to be like CmdrTaco and the iPod, or whoever thought an rsync bash script could replace Dropbox.

If you prove this out with coffee, and work on making it for all "constant" foods in the home, this would be awesome.

Milk, butter, cheese, eggs, soda, cereal, apples, tortilla chips, baby food, etc. A whole section in the fridge or pantry that a user could arrange how they like, and use the app to set restock thresholds. Smart logic on your end to bundle items in as few shipments as possible (i.e. send the butter restock a week before you really need to, because other items are queued up now) and this becomes a magic grocery delivery service where—not only do you not need to go to the store—you don't even need to think about placing an order!

Good luck on this, and probably a good decision to target coffee snobs first.


I kind of like going to the supermarket. I also like variety. This sounds like it would work better for offices etc

Yeah love grocery shopping when I’m making a meal or shopping for something unique.

Personally, I’m not a fan of shopping for the same stuff over and over.


That's kind of my point. I buy coffee every week but rarely the same one. In fact discovering, comparing and contrasting various beans, washes, roasts and preparation types is half the joy of coffee.

Me too, but I also like the “surprise me” subscription services like wine clubs. It’d be a decent backup plan if too many users complained about the monotony.

We actually default people into a "surprise me" subscription.

Wouldn’t a service like this also suppress competition by making part of the market impenetrable to new companies?

I guess that's why YC invested in it.

I like coffee but it's now mostly a utility for me. Same with milk and eggs and butter. I have a fixed brand (not that there are too many options in my local market) and I buy it by default

Just for contrast, I buy the same coffee every week.

In an office, coffee consumption would be fairly constant, such that you can just buy it on a schedule.

This was tried with eggs, and it failed:

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/egg-minder-smart-tray-let...

But maybe if someone does it with a camera and a little AI in a fridge for Milk, eggs, butter, etc. it could work.


I’ll bite and say the reason this failed was the convience. If you merely set a carton of eggs on a weighted shelf and it would automatically order more when you’re low, it might’ve done better, and, been more generalist.

I’ll offer the optimistic hope that people are more willing to put a bag onto a scale after making a cup of joe with the added benefit of automatically having the “nuisance” of ordering and delivering solved. (Non perishable, etc)


As we learned earlier today, eggs make a lousy dietary staple. And since it isn't addictive like coffee, knowing is half the battle, and not ten percent of the battle like it seems to be with caffeine. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19403468

Eggs are a major food, but they aren't relied upon like coffee.


Great comment. You hit the nail on the head with the potential for smart batching.

Thanks for the well wishes!


You should check out his invest like the best podcast. This will likely be a big business.

Thanks for recommending that! It was a great podcast and I'm excited to listen to some of the others because this is the first I've heard of Invest Like The Best.

Yes, I have a friend who recommended it. He said 'Ignore the name'. Wow was he right. Its the most enjoyable podcast I have ever listened to.

thank you! keep in touch, we might end up solving this problem for all your pantry needs!

I’m sticking with dismissive.

Few of questions

1. People always make weekend grocery trips. Why can't they just add a packet of coffee powder? Why do they have to use you? 2. Amazon just discontinued their dash buttons. There should be a strong reason for it. Do you know what it is? How are you planning to avoid it? 3. The issue with diapers and toilet papers is huge. They take up a lot of volume and have very little weight. Does the scale approach work for them? I'm not sure.

It'd be interesting to see how you guys evolve going forward. Best of luck :)


I'll answer some of your questions:

1. You asked about "adding a packet of coffee powder". If you're asking about coffee "powder" (i.e. either preground or instant), then you are not the target market. For coffee aficionados, there is a very short window of peak freshness, about 1-2 weeks post roast. This model works great for these coffee folks who care about this freshness. Note supermarket coffee is usually hopelessly stale by the time it is sold. 2. While the physical dash buttons may have been discontinued, the virtual ones (through your phone, the web, Alexa, etc.) are still heavily in use. My guess if they discontinued them is that they figured they can get just as much play from the virtual ones, especially through all the "smart home" devices they are pushing.


As soon as I saw this I had the thought... This is really not about coffee

The physical buttons did not display the price.

Thanks for the questions.

1. I always forget to get one or two things when I go to the store. This removes having to remember coffee stock levels. Also, the coffee in the store isn't fresh because the distribution chain is too long. We ship straight from roaster to customer, so the coffee is really fresh.

2. Dash doesn't work because it's a new habit and people have to remember to find and press the button before running out. We're a Dash button that automatically presses itself and is fully passive.

3. For toilet paper and diapers it may not be a scale but some other sort of passive monitoring system. We definitely plan to address these eventually.


I think this is very clever and I wish you success but I do not buy the coffee “more than a week old is not fresh” line. Coffee is fermented - stored well it lasts a hell of a lot longer than two weeks.

We stock up on our family’s favorite coffee from Colombia three or four times a year, where relatives travel long distances to collect it for us from a non-exporting roaster.

Many months is a normal shelf life.


When you stock up on coffee from Colombia, is it already roasted?

I think somewhere between 5-15 days is pretty generally accepted as the "fresh" period after roasting (caveat: except for espresso). Some people even freeze their beans if they don't think they'll start the bag soon enough after getting it, or if they get large bags.

You definitely _can_ make coffee with weeks-old beans (or months-old beans), but there's a distinct difference in taste when consuming shortly after roasting (after the degas but before it goes stale). According to [1] (random source among tons for a google search for "how long are coffee beans good after roasting"), beans aren't considered "stale" until around 30 days, but are definitely still usable; stale bread and flat sodas are edible too, but a lot of people prefer the better taste.

[1] https://making-nice-coffee.com/how-long-does-coffee-stay-fre...


I used to keep my beans on the shelf for months. I also have a friend who owns a coffee roasting business. Let me tell you, fresh-roasted coffee tastes WAY better.

I getting my coffee. If I buy one too many bags I can tell the difference between coffee used week 0 and say week 3 or 4. My palette isn't the best so I can't really tell the difference but I can see it. There is much less CO2 in the older coffee. You see this in the smaller "bloom".

This is counter to everything I've ever read on coffee freshness. Perhaps you are right! Do you have any links?

The experts in the field are wary to put a definitive time frame on 'freshness' because there are many variables at play (and a lot of product to sell). Here is a good overview: https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/blog/2016/06/26/long-coffe...

I will grant that not very long ago, the fear of coffee going bad pretty quick was probably valid. But today packaging systems available to even the home roaster allow you to flush oxygen, displace C02, and/or vacuum seal.

I am not trying to argue that flavor stays the same for several months. But I call marketing BS on the warning that you have a week from when your beans were roasted to either enjoy them or to suffer the consequences.


Actually a scale still works for 3 if it's large enough. Counting scales exist which can weigh increments less than a gram but can measure trends of kilos without damage.

You're right, and we'll probably just keep doing scales.

Some people have a mental block with the word "scale" in this context, so we like to remind them it could be other stuff :).


I think the target audience aren't the sort of people that buy a packet of coffee powder from the grocery store.

Another question is what is stopping Amazon/Instacart/etc from copying this model?

Presumably Amazon Go shops have this capability and it could be modified to suit end consumers in their homes?


This question gets asked for every company. The way it works is that Amazon and Instacart. may copy. But walmart and target will be slow to respond. At some point, Amazon will be ahead in the game and Walmart is in a hurry to bring something similar to buy. Then they will acquire Bottomless

Another way, even if Amazon introduces it, they have to make $x billion from it to be viable. If Bottomless makes $100M per year from this funtionality, they are a good business. Meanwhile they can also rake up a few patents thus making forcing Amazon to pay some fees


Why does Amazon need to make $x billion to make it viable?

Big Cos don't have to copy. Startup can validate and they can swallow them if they care.

If you can crack the market of auto-restocking a large variety of household goods, I think you're on to something, hopefully just using coffee as a starting point.

I HATE managing 'subscription' services; it's more work than just reordering manually, (looking at you, Soylent and Amazon) and Amazon Dash buttons didn't help because the item you paired it to is never still around when you press the button.

I wouldn't want to deal with all of this overhead for just restocking one supply (coffee) but I certainly see the value if many products were covered.

Best of luck!


In a different life, I was working on a device that could turn any fridge into a smart fridge. Using computer vision to auto restock food when you ran low. The prototype felt pretty magical for the few food items it could recognize.

Maybe some day later down the line :)


Sounds cool! We've thought about this concept a lot. We always assumed that the fridge would be too messy for this to actually work. I'd be interested in hearing about your approach.

It's so simple it's kind of stupid. Don't have the camera face the inside of the fridge, point it out and watch the I/O instead.

My email is in my bio, happy to show you what was initially built out and lessons learned! Could be useful for you.


Exactly! Coffee : Bottomless :: Books : Amazon

Interesting you mentioned Soylent. Part of the motivation for Bottomless was our Soylent subscription. We have enough piled up to survive Armageddon.

I'm curious about your comment on the overhead. The scale takes 60 seconds to set up, and lasts for over a year on a charge. I definitely understand that any set-up sometimes feels like too much!


So you'd end up with loads of scales all over the kitchen?

I don't understand how this sort of thing would work with many food types. Looking at the product as is, I already don't want a random scale laying around. Never mind 10 scales for 10 different products. Then if you forget to put something on a scale, the product isn't ordered. It all seems quite annoying and chaotic. Also the scale is large and ugly, and something I don't want to maintain. I.e. what if it loses battery or wifi etc. Then imagine multiple of these scales lying around. I like my kitchen looking super clean and tidy and the idea of tons of these scales around the place immediately turns me off the idea.


I wish I could upvote you 100 times! The idea that this could scale out to a bunch of different household products seems absolutely insane. I can only think of a handful of items that we keep “in stock” in our kitchen and only a fraction of those that have a distinct placement in my kitchen. It just seems like so much hassle to knoll all my food items to make sure they are tracked correctly. I can’t even begin to imagine my wife going along with this and we have a young child who is just discovering how to get things from cabinets and the fridge so this is just a nonstarter. It feels like I would spend a good amount of my time just making sure every food item was exactly in the right spot.

How about if the item’s regular spot in the cupboard or fridge has neat scale like a little placemat? I put my coffee in the same spot every day. Same with the milk, eggs, cheese, bread, apples, etc.

Even better if the cupboard liner is one big but slim scale and can figure out the weight of each item. Not too hard if you take things out one at a time.


I just listened to Michael's podcast interview. Very smart & inspiring!

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/invest-like-the-best/mi...


He sounds like a philosopher more than a business person. But my bias is that that's a good thing.

Hey, these aren’t mutually exclusive.

So, I really like this idea, and I've been with plenty of coffee subscriptions over the last few years. My issue/worry is that I don't make coffee at home on a daily rate. I have coffee at the office most weekdays, and then at home on the weekend, and then usually also on one day I work from home.

For me, it would be really nice for your service to work out something like "You make 60g of coffee on Saturdays and Sundays, and then 30g's on Wednesday" and then work out when I'll be running out, and maybe order me a new bag to come in on Friday because it knows I'll likely run out on Saturday.

This doesn't seem super hard to do, but does seem like something that's important to work out, since there's a lot of products that people don't use on with regular daily amount.


Interesting use case.

This actually mirrors a lot of our customers, so it's important for our system to take this consumption pattern into account.

After a few orders, the system will learn that you make 120g on weekends with sporadic weekday consumption.


That's really nice! One thought - it might be helpful to have some way to seed the system with what you at least think is "normal" consumption?

The one other thing that springs to mind is having some way to mark vacations or other disruptions to schedule? Also potentially a way to mark that you refilled some other way? Often when I'm on a trip, I'll bring home some coffee from a local roaster, so having a way to feed that into the system would be nice.


Interesting concept for seeding the system. We used to have something like that and dropped it because it wasn't too accurate.

We do have a setting for turning off automatic re-ordering to handle vacations or unexpected bounties of coffee.


I like this idea, and good luck! Just wanted to give some input on this as I currently work on an ML project at Amazon. The more context possible from the user to define the space at the very beginning will increase accuracy exponentially (at the risk of a too much effort required for user onboarding). Finding that balance is important. Additionally, the user feedback is very important as well. incorporating a way to say yes a shipment came at the wrong time, or no it didn't will also improve model development. However both experiences should be lightweight and seamless - good luck!

Thanks for the advice! I agree there's a tradeoff between asking the user too much and expecting the system to learn on it's own.

I am in the same boat. This kind of irregular is what has stopped me from automatically re-ordering a la Amazon subscriptions. It would be amazing if this was solved.

Glad to hear it. This is the problem we're addressing. E-commerce subscriptions don't actually work.

> The only sensor in the scale is a weight sensor.

? Why not add a RFID reader (relatively cheap) to the scale and then add tags on the coffee bags to be able to log the consumption for multiple types?

You could even be able to identify the weight of multiple objects (tracking what's on the scale and how the weight changes when it's removed and when it's put back) on a bigger(longer?) scale.

And you could sell kits with tags that people could slap on their own containers and register multiple custom items.

I agree, "autonomous dash button" is a nice way to present it, but if it was capable of detecting what's on it, it would become more or less a "sentient dash button", way better ;)


Yes, we've thought a lot about this. We could end up doing something like what you describe.

The reason for the current format is that we want the scales to blend into your normal life. The scale is the size of one coffee bag so you just put it where you'd normally put your bag.


The scale seems way too big and ugly to fit into my kitchen, never mind multiple of them.

coffee aficionados tend to have lots of random bulky objects in the kitchen anyways. coffee makers,coffee implements, temperature sensors etc etc

it quickly becomes a hassle to stow it all away everytime so you end up chucking it all in one "space"


Coffee aficionados don't want to be restricted to buying from a single, web-based company. Unless this company stocks hundreds or thousands of varieties.

anecdotally i'd say that coffee people tend to buy excessive amounts of the one coffee brand they like, they mess around and buy a lot of samples/get gifts but they only have one or two blends that they really like

Just a note on four barrel: One of their cofounders sexually harassed and assaulted their employees. The other cofounders were aware and complicit until a lawsuit finally hit. They promised to make four barrel employee owned but still have not followed up on that promise: https://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Four-Barrel-...

We stopped ordering from four barrel because of these reasons and I'd recommend you'd consider not carrying their coffee either.


Thanks for the note.

We have been told by Four Barrel that they are now employee owned and that the former owner is no longer involved.

My email is available at my account. If you know for certain that the above is not true, please reach out.


I'd be open to believing that and I definitely don't want to mess them up too much, but at this point, their brand has done so much shady stuff over the years that it's really hard to trust them any more, especially when there's so many good options that don't have assaulters and potentially complicit owners in the mix.

>I definitely don't want to mess them up too much

You‘re actively trying to get other people to boycott them, which would eventually put them out of business. It‘s the first time I’ve heard about them and I don‘t care one way or the other but be honest. There‘s no „openness to believing“ the „potentially complicit“ here, your post is a complete contradiction.


More of, I'd like to see more than them privately telling other companies that they've dealt with the issues. I'm open to someone showing me something that's more definitive than "We promise we did things", given that they've previously promised to do things and then not done them.

Their website doesn't seem to say anything about their ownership more than "locally owned", and at this point, they've burned a lot of their credibility when it comes to doing the right thing. If they've actually gotten rid of folks and they're a employee-owned company now, then I have no problems with buying from them and supporting folks.

I'm mostly just admitting that I haven't heard anything definitive either way in the last few months, and since the company doesn't seem to be making it easy to tell if they've changed things, it's likely that folks in the coffee community still think poorly of them.


Yet another startup that throws tech at a non-issue. People buying cheap coffee just do that when doing their groceries. And people buying expensive ones are probably inclined to try new ones based on recommendations of their local dedicated store. Congratulations, you removed chit-chat with the clerk, smelling the different varieties of products, buying something unplanned, i.e. what’s make interesting to go buying coffee.

To add insult to the injury you even charge for a monthly subscription, which is quite expensive if you compare to any real service (Netflix, a vps vm, iCloud storage, etc.)


I'm on the side that this is a non-issue, but, experimentally the market (especially if they expand beyond coffee) is larger than you think. People absolutely pay for home delivery of groceries. People absolutely pay for delivery when they could just drive/walk/bike/whatever. People pay >$100/year for Amazon Prime when they could just go to the corner store or Wal-Mart or Target. People pay for meal kits when they could go to the grocery store and pick out vegetables themselves.

I myself usually do the latter, but there's definitely a market for people doing the former. Also, don't forget the people who are busy with multiple jobs or families or long commutes; I can go to the store and chit chat because I'm in my 20s and single, but not everyone finds that a worthwhile experience.

(Also, as a coffee drinker, usually I want a good brand of coffee I know I like over serendipity, anyway.)


I don't necessarily disagree that this might be too niche to be a viable business, but I think you're being overly dismissive and ignoring that there is at least some market for people who do just want to restock the same coffee all the time.

You could apply your argument to any consumable item, it isn't coffee-specific. Lots of people figure out the one they like and stick with it.

I know people who order the same coffee all the time. Is it a big enough inconvenience for them to need it automated? I don't know. But they don't care about chit chat with clerks.


I’m a big coffee fan, but my routine leaves me buying whatever is fresh from Counter Culture at Whole Foods. I don’t make regular trips to a coffee shop, because it doesn’t fit my schedule. If many of those roasters are decent, this would give me more variety. And today I definitely end up running out of beans at inconvenient times.

Price: I brew at home, and buy roughly two bags a month, typically $11-14/bag.

So I’d at least consider this.


It sounds like you're closer to being able to find a use for this than many, because you like to have the same brand of coffee.

Some coffee lovers like me like variety, not just within a brand, but across brands.


It's not that I like to have the same roaster, it's that I typically only have access to one high quality roaster that's fresh. When I go to a coffeeshop that's downtown or another city, I often get different roasters. That's just not my routine.

One thing to be mindful of is the roast date.

Whole Foods might be better at this than others (I'm not sure) but many grocery stores, even high-end specialty ones, have coffee sitting on their shelves that was roasted 3–6 months ago. Even worse, sometimes the roast date will be omitted from the bag entirely (or replaced by an arbitrary made-up "best by" date) because the coffee is embarrassingly old.

A good third wave shop will sell beans with a roast date of about a week or less. Most baristas recommend beans tasting best when used within 2–3 weeks of roast date.

I suspect you'll get much fresher beans ordering through a service like Bottomless that drop ships directly from the roaster. It might be something you've never thought about until you've tasted the difference between freshly roasted vs not. Not everyone cares about freshness but it's very important to me.


Agreed on both points.

Counter Culture labels its coffee with roast date and is local, which is part of the reason it’s one of the only coffees I buy at the grocery store: they always have something I like, usually roasted within 4-14 days. If bottomless is doing this right, everything will be towards the lower end of that range, so that’s a draw.


> And people buying expensive ones are probably inclined to try new ones based on recommendations of their local dedicated store.

Local third wave coffee shops can only afford to stock a small variety from a small number of roasters due to the short lifespan of freshly roasted coffee. There are several online multi-roaster coffee marketplaces e.g., Crema.co, because the broad variety problem is not feasible to solve locally.

If you know that you like a fairly specific kind of coffee, like a natural process fruit-forward Ethiopian, you are lucky to find 1-2 versions of this locally at a given time whereas online you might find a dozen or more.

The best thing you can do to support your local shop is buy their freshly brewed coffee or espresso drinks (and tip the baristas well). Much more of their profit comes from that than bulk beans.

I support both personally and don't see them as conflicting with each other.


You're basically making an argument against all e-commerce.

Lol

The biggest stockout problems in my life are those where an inconvenience turns into a big mess. If you can expand your thinking to that problem, I'm very interested.

Specifically:

Toilet Paper

Diapers

Diaper Wipes

Paper Towels

Cat Litter

Laundry Detergent

Sanitary Napkins / Tampons

Auto-coffee refill is something I can avoid. Diaper stockout -- the horror!


Thank you! We're always wondering what the biggest restocking problems are for people.

Your list are all products we're planning to address eventually. The real question is: what do we do next?


Toilet paper. By far the biggest market out of those listed above, bulky and inconvenient to pick up at the shops while doing other things or to stock up on, catastrophic not to have. You'd need two/three levels of comfort, probably.

You don't just order toilet paper from Amazon, subscription or not? (Although I'd imagine toilet paper usage rate is pretty consistent, so that would be easy to set up a subscription for)

No. Amazon subscriptions have been really frustrating for me - not enough flexibility around amount and timing, so either I subscribe to just less than I need and run out anyway, or just more than I need and have it piling up.

The one other thing that could be a good restock is rice. A solid restock on quality rice is something that could be really valuable for folks who cook Asian food regularly, and it's something that people generally make on a pretty regular basis, but may not have a good local store that has quality options for.

Rice is dirt cheap and low margin. The sort of people who eat rice everyday are also the sort of people who buy a 40lbs bag that lasts for months because rice doesn't go bad. Also, my (stereotypical) impression of people who cook rice everyday is that they are not rich and willing to spend money of this type of luxury.

My guess is that rice is one of the last products that automatic restocking makes economic sense for.


How much does a typical bag cost and weigh?

I usually buy 2-5 lbs, but I know some people who go through 20-40lbs regularly.

If you want to get VC funding, pick the one with the biggest market.

If you want to build a profitable business sooner rather than later. Figure out which 3 would give you the best marginal profit and choose the one you think you can execute best on.


I can't imagine having sufficiently spacious and sparsely-populated household storage that each of these things could live on its own individual scale, to be monitored in this way.

Use reusable diapers.

When I was a baby, my parents used a diaper service to exactly do this - cloth diapers laundered off-site. Here's an idea for a social-local-mobile business : bring back the diaper service.

I think the business case with the same idea and tech, but a lot better market cap, would be providing a restocking service to businesses who are using tens of thousands of dollars of consumable shop supplies than the small audience of people who are willing to buy coffee from a subscription for $3/mo.

To make the pain point that I'm familiar with on a daily basis crystal clear to you: I'm an engineer at a small, shop that makes industrial automation equipment. Each machine contains (in addition to bill-of-materials listed components, an array of stuff we consider "shop supplies".

Some components I'd inventory include a lot of items from the McMaster Carr, Grainger, Bolt Bin, and Digikey catalogs. We have racks of pneumatic fittings, electrical conduit connectors, dowel pins, electrical connectors, extrusion hardware, labels, and all manner of other industrial Lego. There's a large area with hundreds of drawers holding alloy cap screws in socket, button, and flat-head in metric and SAE from #4-40/M3 to 1/2-18/M10 in quarter inch/5mm increments. Every tool and die shop, industrial facility maintenance department, auto mechanic, construction contractor, and so on has a similar set of drawers, shelves, and ULine bins that contains stuff like this.

Each item only runs a nickel to a couple dollars each, so it's hardly worth adding to a spreadsheet, checking out of inventory, and cutting a purchase order for a replacement, but our little 20-man shop probably goes through $150,000 worth of these consumables each year in the process of building $10M worth of machines. Keep our fabricators supplied with the components they need, and stop our expensive engineers from spending $50 in time every week or two purchasing these components, and I'd be more than happy to pay for the value it would provide. Which is a lot more than the value that would be provided by keeping my home kitchen stocked with coffee.

Also, from my point of view, the equipment to use to measure this stuff is not ESP8266 modules and a soldering iron, it's an off-the-shelf PLC, some DIN rail and screw terminals, and some load cells or maybe strain gauges if you really want to optimize costs. Get a volume of equipment sold before trying to roll your own full-stack hardware supply chain...but that's beside the point.


Came here to echo this, but for grocery stores ala Amazon's bumbled attempts to optimize Whole Foods stocking.

Your use case and the parent's sound like a good use of JIT Kanban[1], waiting for inventory levels to drop below a threshold to replenish them. However, demand-forecasting[2] may also be useful in the parent's use case, and sometimes both systems are used in a product lifecycle.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_forecasting


This would be killer for the workplace and tracking these incidental materials without spending people hours to do so.

At home, if this is on a per-item basis, I could see you being able to set expiration timers too, and triggering a re-order then.


Thanks for laying out the use case!

I’ve previously worked in restaurants and there’s an analogous problem there. I think this tech will be everywhere someday.

I’mcurious about your insight on the tech. Could you flesh that out a bit more?


Sure.

Essentially, the parent article was discussing how they broke out the soldering iron and learned about wireless integrated circuits. At a large enough scale, it makes great sense to do this engineering work: design a PCB with power supplies and analog circuits, figure out connections to peripheral sensors, put that PCB and sensors into an injection-molded piece of plastic, add fasteners and brackets to mount sensors, install connectors and terminate wires on the sensors and boards, write assembly and C code to make them all talk to each other ...taking on all the overhead.

But for a lot of small runs of equipment, this doesn't make sense. Buy the strain gauge already in an enclosure with standardized interfaces and built-in amplifiers, get a small computer (PLC) that's already in an enclosure and has terminals to connect to those sensors, write code in a high-level language designed for talking to sensors, and ship it.

It's like somebody wanted to build a website, so they started digging into network protocols. There's a place for that, but it should be approached long after you've fired up a Wordpress instance.


What I want is a scale on both sides of airport security. I weight myself as I enter and weigh myself as I exit and if it matches, I know I didn’t leave anything behind.

Bottomless seems like a clever solution to a common problem. I don’t like subscribing to auto-refills based on dates as I end up with more than I need and causes the reverse of the problem I was trying to solve.


Interesting use case on both sides of airport security!

Yes exactly. It's almost better to go to the store than having loads of product sitting around getting stale.


I have to confess, that I don't understand the business case, but I applaud your confidence to go after such an extremely niche area (I wouldn't call it a problem). However, if I convince myself to see the value here, I see the real product as the solution around using your scale to work on pantry restocking in general, not just with coffee.

All the best!


As other commenters have noted, there's a broader business case to be made for a service that knows when you're running out of anything in the home or office.

Michael and Liana I love what you are doing and the intersection of electronics hardware and e-commerce.

Some background: Hi I’m Marcus. I’ve previously started an IoT company and have just made & patented some WebUSB Shipping Scales and a seperate WebUSB Label Printer (primarily for e-commerce. E.g. creating shipping consignment labels directly from Shopify and other platforms).

We made our own hardware to automate our electronics components e-commerce business and now are looking to share it with others.

Whilst my company sells sensors including the load cells found in scales, we found it way easier to go to China and mod an existing scale, really just switching out the electronics for our own.

I’m wondering what path you took with regards to the electronics. Are the insides a mash of Sparkfun and Adafruit parts?

How did you came to the decision that 3D printing was worth it even for an MVP?

Just out of interest, what wifi module are you using ? I’m guessing an ESPXXXX?

We skipped wifi because our solution had to be idiot proof. Think the difficulty in making a process that would enable your grand parent connect the scale to wifi... I’ve been there, and it still somewhat sucks with cheap wifi modules.

Have you considered HomeKit?

I wonder at what point other technologies like cellular would make sense.

Sorry for all the questions!

Written on a phone. Excuse the typos.


Super interesting, congratulations on launching! I think the HN perspective here ("Why can't they just add a packet of coffee powder?) is bog standard + a lot of people aren't your market.

The consumer side is interesting and has been addressed, but I think the more interesting component is you've essentially become an integrated sales partner for a really big industry. I've worked a lot in leadgen, and it turns out that most companies are pretty bad at optimizing for conversions. They pay a lot to keep the inbound requests going, but often they're not very good at handling the needs of a particular channel (especially when that channel has different expectations than their normal customer).

By actually making the sale, you turn coffee companies into a branded drop shipper. That's really really smart, IMO -- you've got the consumer at the purchase point, which is really the chokepoint for a lot of business.

Congrats again!


I'm glad you get it. Thanks for the kind words.

I don't see the value-add of a scale over, say, a button. I'm going to be interacting with the coffee when I use it, why not just leave the decision to re-order to me then?

Thanks for the feedback. We weren't sure a scale would work either. We tested it with some skepticism.

It turns out, leaving your coffee on a scale is intuitive for most people. This actually works as a way to do re-ordering without the user having to think of it at all. It's like a Dash button that presses itself.

For what it's worth, Amazon recently discontinued Dash buttons. :)


We love our Bottomless scale!

The thing I would add is this product works particularly well at our office. It’s one less task to delegate. At home I can mentally keep tabs on how supplies are diminishing but in an office environment there are more chaotic variables that I don’t have visibility into the effect resource consumption.

Also protip: tare (reset to zero) the scale with an airtight container like a “coffee gator” and store the beans on the scale in that.


I can see the office use case a lot more than the personal one--because I might not feel like I have the authority to re-order coffee when it runs out.

Maybe you should market towards offices more? (Your website reads as very consumer-focused to me right now.)


The above is a customer, but I'll jump in here.

We work with offices now! We have 2lb and 5lb bags on the platform.


Can you share your designs of your scale?

What I want is a scale that I can put under the cat food or water bowl (or under the cat litter tray), so that I can measure on a minute-by-minute basis how much water was drunk, how much food was eaten, or how much poop or pee was generated, and see those trends over a long period of time.

Cats are really good about hiding weakness and illness, and we've found that frequently one of the best indicators of health issues is a significant change in the intake and output processes.

You could then follow that up with a bigger scale you can put under the food/water bowl area, so that the cat ends up weighing themselves, every time they go to the bowls.

But I want these things recording this data locally, making it available locally, and not sharing it with any facility that is outside of my home.


You can make one yourself pretty quickly with a Raspberry Pi and a few dollars (<$20) worth of parts. All you need is a load sensor[0] and an ADC[1].

[0]: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10245

[1]: https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-adc/


The problems that this batch of YC companies are solving is quite strange. Happy to be proven wrong but it doesn’t seem any of the companies in the winter batch is addressing the RFS problems...

This is awesome! I've been wanting to build something similar to this for many years. I also wanted to hack together a prototype with a Raspberry Pi and scale, and automatically add items to a grocery list whenever the weight dropped below a certain threshold. Automatic ordering and delivery would be great too, but I don't think that would be viable in most countries.

I'd love to have a smart fridge / pantry where every spot on the shelf had a scale, and could detect when things are running low. Unfortunately most of the big appliance companies seem to be spinning their wheels on strange and useless "innovations" like putting Twitter on your fridge.

I think starting with a single product and having a subscription model is a really smart idea. Unfortunately Amazon has an enormous edge, especially after acquiring Whole Foods. Also the Amazon Dash button, and Amazon Go for automatic checkout. I've been expecting Amazon to put out a product like this for a long time (maybe their own smart fridge with automatic restocking.)

So I think it's very brave to go into this market! I hope it works out well with the coffee, and that you're able to expand into other products.


I just heard about this on Patrick O’Shaughnessy podcast. As a coffee-fiend, I really should look into becoming a customer, and am also interested to see what offerings come next.

Reminds me of a Whitehead quote that I like that can also serve as a heuristic to evaluate business ideas:

“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them”

I love that literally everything is abstracted away from the customer. Stuff just appears like magic.


I love that quote, I had forgotten about it. I'm gonna tweet @bottomless :)

Any chance you have a link to the podcast episode?


I hate subscription services and smart home solutions, but you've hit on an actual solution to an actual problem. I have a subscription with Peace Coffee right now that I have to manually manage. I only subscribed because it saves a good bit of cash. I'm sitting on an extra 5lbs of coffee because I'm not good at that kind of thing. This resolves that.

I'd totally sign up today, but why only a dark roast option? Add light roast and I'm 100% in.


Hey there, you can sign up for any coffee! Sorry our on-boarding flow is a bit confusing.

Just click the "Shop All Coffee" link.


> universal problem

Slight inconvenience != problem. If this works out, I’m going into the catheter business because peeing is universal too.

I do wish you best of luck and hope you find people who care enough to buy your product. This just sounds like an uphill battle to me

Edit to add; I’m not a fan of the weight approach. This assumes a lot and can’t predict what I’ll need tomorrow. Also, it forces me to put things back in their place, no thanks.


Interesting opinion! I think that restocking is a universal problem. We're just very used to having to think about it.

you just leave your coffee bags lying around after you finish making coffee?

I'm trying to understand if I'm your target audience, maybe you can help.

I make espresso at home and primarily enjoy premium roasters. By my spreadsheet logs I average ~39 espresso shots/mo, or ~2.1 bags/mo assuming an average of 18g shots. But that frequency can vary with things like travel, etc.

Really what I want is to be able to pick from a variety of my favorite beans across different roasters, and have them delivered in that narrow window right as I have ~72g of beans left in the bag (~4 shots worth), and a roast date that makes it so that just as I'm finishing the bag, I'm about a week past the roast date of the new bag.

I've avoided the subscriptions from roasters because I dislike the idea of ending up with bags I won't use before they go bad, or running short of beans and not having coffee on days when I'm waiting for a delivery. I also like the flexibility to mix things up and frequently changes the roasters and beans I buy.

Is this a fit for me?


As someone who ran a retail e-commerce operation for a decade I strongly advise against building a company to serve customers with such exacting requirements unless your unit economics are way better than you will see selling any variety of bean.

I was just sharing stats because I happened to have the spreadsheet up. I'm a data nerd so I modeled out my coffee consumption to prove it paid for itself to drink better coffee at home.

That said, the convenience of having a bag of beans of my choosing delivered right when I'm about to run out, but not so far in advance that they start hitting that 2wk+ staleness threshold (I don't need it to be as exact as I stated), all without going to the store, is a nice convenience. I'm excited to see a product like this that can remove one more thing I needed to worry about from my life.


I didn't mean my comment to sound critical of you. But when it comes to coffee, you will be hard to please, and hard to please customers are tough customers.

Pretty close! We can't dial it in perfectly to run out when you have 4 shots worth, but you can tune how aggressive our algorithm is in re-ordering.

Makes sense. That was just my ideal, obviously I can be flexible for convenience if it's close enough. Any insights into whether you'll be carrying other roasters? I'm a big fan of Verve, Chromatic, and a few others from the Bay Area.

Love the idea. Please try to add Madcap (https://madcapcoffee.com/) to your list of coffee producers; they are one of the best coffee roasters in the US, in my opinion. They already have a traditional subscription model that ships all over the country.

We'll be sure to reach out! Thanks for the tip.

I'd also totally recommend Dark Matter. They have a great subscription right now that, IMO, is fairly approachable, but still interesting enough for folks who are into unique coffee. They also have one of the best supply chains I've run into - 2-day shipping to most places, so you're getting really fresh coffee. Turns out Chicago is nice for that.

Madcap is also excellent, as well as Tandem, Wild Gift, Ritual...

On the other side, if you're not aware, you might take some flack for working with Four Barrel, since they've had fairly public issues with their founder sexually harassing folks, and then further shadyness: https://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Four-Barrel-...


Thanks for the recommendations!

Re: Four Barrel - copied from above:

We have been told by Four Barrel that they are now employee owned and that the former owner is no longer involved.

My email is available at my account. If you know for certain that the above is not true, please reach out.


Bottomless is awesome! I've been part of the service for a while now - and only stopped using it recently because my neighborhood coffee roaster (who I'm trying my best to support!) isn't on the service: https://lovelicton.com/pilrim_coffee_comes_to_oaktree.html.

I don't necessarily have ideas about how to improve or expand your service - however since you are in Seattle and utilize Open Source software, I encourage you to hack on some of those projects with the community at our next OpenSource hackathon in Licton Springs. https://lovelicton.com/images/events/2019/hackathon.jpg (our next one is April 29th).

Thanks for starting an awesome Seattle company!

~Timothy


Glad to hear you churned for a reason other than the service!

We believe companies should find a way to give back to the open source software they use. We're actively thinking over how best to do this. Thanks for the links!


If this is serious, you are solving the wrong problem.

You assume that you can mail order the coffee your clients want through an API, this is the hard part. It's not hard for people to know and signal that they want more coffee. But even worse, you limit coffee variety to a small fraction, most gourmet beans don't even have websites.

But if we are assuming API-reachable mail ordering, here are some much simpler solutions:

An amazon button next to the grinder.

A one click app with a today view widget. It can even pro-actively suggest that it might be time to order more.

*Automatic re-ordering on a schedule that is easily changeable. Almost everyone will have fairly constant consumption patterns, getting new coffee a few days too early sometimes is not an issue, it won't go bad.


>An amazon button next to the grinder.

Amazon just announced, a little over a week ago, that they are killing the Dash buttons. As part of the announcement, they said they believe that the whole concept has outlived it's usefulness and has been replaced by voice ordering with virtual assistants ("Alexa, order coffee").

I think the real problem was that the idea of having a separate button for every product was untenable. The same issue faces OP's concept - are we really going to put a separate network-connected scale under every single consumable good in the house?


Yes i know they did, but it would still be a much better solution to this “problem”. I think those buttons are a nice idea by the way, i’m surprised it failed!

Just got a subscription! Hope I receive the beans before I run out of my existing stock, or I'd have to make do with umm chai.

The 3 months free trial is great, but would you be adding a per-month option? I don't like to lock myself into one service for a year.


I think to better understand why this is great you'll have to listen to the latest "invest like the best" episode. In short using iot you can make subscription based services work at an optimal level.

I rolled my eyes reading the synapsis, because I am picky with which coffee I order, and prefer to grab bags of local roasters. Then I looked at the roasters you offer and was impressed. I'll be putting in an order once I finish the bag in my cupboard I just picked up. If only you had Slate* it would be perfect for me because you'd have 4 out of the 4 I prefer instead of just 3 out of 4.

*https://slatecoffee.com/


I work right by the one in pioneer square. slate is excellent. I hate that they refer to a latte as espresso + milk though :-)

Yea, that's absolutely trippy. Still worth it though. I just started working near that one, I have to stop by.

Cool technology concept! Amazon will buy you for sure.

However

"Bottomless was born out of our frustration managing our household stock levels. We always seemed to be running out of one thing or another."

is infomercial level actor marketing.


Thank you! Maybe we're the next Amazon...

We are new to marketing, so this is helpful.


I'd be interested in learning how you plan on keeping up with corporate wi-fi networks kicking you off, changing passwords periodically, and/or having a weird login screen (the kind you see at airports, for instance).

Also curious if you're using the same PITA approach to "learning" wifi credentials that everybody else is (disconnect iOS from primary wifi, connect to IoT device as wifi, teach it the network and credentials, reconnect iOS to primary wifi).


Make this work for everything in my pantry and you have a customer. Order me a Whole Foods order that has the breadcrumbs, ketchup, and canned beans that I’m low on.

That's the long run plan. Looking forward to have you signed up in a few years!

I didn't think this was a problem that needed to be solved. Then I realized that I was running out of coffee and unless I make the trip to the store tonight (tough chance - I have a movie night planned), I will be out of coffee tomorrow morning.

Not the end of the world scenario, but I'm basically a zombie without my morning coffee. Not something I want to experience on my Sunday


I would have loved this for baby formula. But I'm not sure if a family buys that for a long enough time for this to make sense for that. And most people try to avoid it nowadays. It also keeps for a pretty long time.

Our formula stock was a daily discussion. Will this last through the night? Running out was always a red alert though. Hungry babies don't care what time it is.


Perfect example of where this product is useless. Just have it automatically deliver on set intervals, that can easily be adjusted. Have a bit too much is not an issue, it doesn't have to be fresh. Besides, you should be breastfeeding.

> Besides, you should be breastfeeding

Not everyone can. And you get an incredible amount of shit from basically everyone in society if you don't. We even had one nurse call formula poison.


Most people can but don’t, especially in the US. Partly because of insane parental leave rules, mothers are expected to go back to work after a few weeks. But a lot of people just don’t want to, and that’s about as stupid as refusing to vaccinate.

this is a lot better idea than those dash buttons. I wish you all the success, and hopefully you'll then be available here (UK)

Thank you! We're a dash button that presses itself. :)

I've been using Bottomless since January. I love how it doesn't make me think at all – there's just coffee. Always.

Love the idea. I assume the prediction about when to reorder is more sophisticated than just coffee_weight < X, so how well does it deal with highly variable coffee usage? For example, randomly throughout the week my wife wants coffee as well so I’ll make a double batch...but there’s no rhyme or reason to her coffee cravings.

Yes, it takes your history into account, so it will learn of this variability over time.

Happy beta customer for almost a year. The only problem I have experienced is that that the roaster might take a variable amount of time to actually send the beans, so there is always a slight possiblity to run out, which is especially bad on Sunday since USPS don’t deliver and consumption is the highest during the weekend.

Hi, I'm glad that you're a happy beta customer, yes, USPS delivery times over the weekend are a challenge, we are working on ways we can improve that.

Why don't you make a whole container with the weight scale at the bottom? Smart IoT Coffee Container...?

What I don't understand is why there is the monthly shipping subscription. As someone who has free coffee at work and only drinks coffee at home on the weekend it doesn't seem like it would be worth paying monthly shipping. I would much prefer to be able to choose between the monthly cost and a per bag cost.

Yeah, thanks for your feedback! Would you pay for a set up fee if then you can get per bag cost?

Possibly, depends on what the fee was.

I don't think I would keep my coffee on the scale enough to make it accurate. We keep our ground coffee in a tin but the tin will move around. It might be better to put a electricity meter on the coffee maker and record when they make coffee (and assume they always make a full pot).

I could see using this in a workshop with bins of small parts and components. Make a DigiKey order when some combination of too-light bins occurs. Shipping costs are relatively high with screws and spacers, etc, so bundling is a win. And running out of something is bad for business.

Nice idea and I would use it (if it were got coffee and available in Australia, which presumably it isn't), but my coffee beans live in the grinder (which in my case is integrated into the whole espresso machine).

Perhaps partner with grinder or machine manufacturers?


Love this product. Very warm feeling getting the "coffee is on the way!" Email every few weeks :)

Great to see a real customer chime in! Glad you're enjoying the service.

Sounds like a fun weekend project to replicate this for a ton of other stuff and not require a service.

It's actually pretty hard to do the re-ordering system. Monitoring would be a fun easy project, for sure!

I love startup parody as much as the next guy, but this is taking it a bit too far.

The product looks awesome.

Can you add the processing type for all coffees? It looks like the exists, it's just only shown for some. I really like naturally processed beans!

Edit: Just saw that I can filter by process. Thank you for building this feature.


Thanks! I also love natural processed coffees.

If the filter isn't working, you can find a product that is naturally processed (CMD+F "natural") and click on the word "natural". Hopefully that'll activate it. If not, email me and I'll help send a link.


Whoops, meant to say *the field exists

I meant to say that there are a few listed which don't have the processing method in the their fields. I went through the signup process on my iPad but now on my phone am not finding a way back into the coffee browser to give you example links.


I have about 2 extra years of toilet paper from Amazon because of the broken “subscribe and save” option. This is a great idea; coffee seems like a great initial market, curious what the 2nd and 3rd products end up being.

Good luck!

A year and half ago I had to write down all the spices/ingredients we had and how much was left, because we kept running out and finding out when cooking. My wife and I discussed how a scale like this would be awesome!

Hope this works out!


Thank you

Love the idea! Slightly off topic, but what was your experience applying for/going through YC as a husband and wife team? I've heard that VC's are reluctant to invest out of fear of interpersonal issues.

The only time we told YC about our relationship was during the application on the question of "how do we know each other" but other than that, no issue at all. They have been very welcoming and respectful. I can’t complain at all.

What are your views on the environmental impact of regular deliveries for small goods?

Could you make it possible to find the right coffee to begin with by entering some parameters and and then suggesting the coffee I'll like best?

Even reading through the options of roasters in this comment thread is overwhelming.


We definitely get it! We've been focusing on the re-ordering rather than the coffee experience, but we plan to do more here.

Let me know what you like and I can make a recommendation.


Congratulations! I have a similar idea, but more for refilling a particular glass or mug with a given beverage before it becomes empty (because reaching the end makes me feel sad now and then :P).

How would the refill be delivered to the mug?

The scale is a lot smaller :P : imagine a single-cup coffee machine with a scale where the cup sits all at your desk. If you remove the brewing functionality with a desktop-sized tank and a dispenser system, then you have something that would work for any beverage. There is no delivery beyond what the appliance would provide (tank to cup). My other inspiration for this idea was the Norse myth of Thor and drinking horn connected to the sea [0].

[0] http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm (pp 63-64, 67)


I had a friend hack a prototype for the exact same concept in our undergrad years. This was done as a course project and he discarded it later. I've always felt it was a good idea though.

That's cool!

I think meds might be a useful application of this tech, problem is the restocking. You could maybe partner with CVS or Walgreens to do the integration and help pay for hardware.

PillPack solves the same problem more elegantly. They pack meds in accordance with one's prescribed schedule and dosage. Zero-effort, always there when you need it, no measuring, no counting, no sorting.

Wasn't aware of that, looks like a nice program. I was pretty deep into some local efforts around opiod abuse and something like this could be instrumental in helping prevent meds pilfering by other people in the household.

I think the bag should screw into the scale with a twist or two. Current design to precarious. Don't make me remember to check bag did not slide off.

Cool idea! Right now we're trying to keep the hardware as simple as possible.

Velcro?

Just signed up! What you sold me on was the fresh coffee- the smart scale to me is just an added plus (and an excellent conversation piece).

Does this require me to have it always plugged in? Could you make me an alexa skill? I have an alexa in my kitchen already.

No, the scale last for up to 1 year on a single battery charge and we're working on improving that. We might do an Alexa skill in the future.

Is this hardware for the sake of hardware? I think this would be more useful in industrial or commercial use (bakeries?) rather than home use. If I run out of coffee, I go to starbucks on my way to work and order on instacart or go by grocery store on my way home.

This reminds me of Juicero. It seems to be solving a problem that only exists in the Bay area.

Every office with a kitchen and a coffee maker in the world needs to deal with reordering supplies. This doesn't seem massively overpriced nor massively over-engineered. It's basically a scale that auto-presses a dash button for you.

A bag of coffee lasts about a day or 2 in our office. Half of it goes into the coffee machine. Leaving it on a scale to show that it's gone seems to have no added benefit over ordering 12 bags every month and increasing the order if it proves too little. We have under 20 employees using the office daily, so having any more would make a scale especially useless. At home a bag last over a week. If I get 4 at a time, I only need to order them once a month-ish. This product won't make much sense in either of these cases. Also, in the Netherlands there are plenty coffee subscriptions for businesses, adding a scale won't make that much of a difference. I stick with my point that it solves a purely SV problem like Juicero did, it makes no sense to me at scale. (Pun not intended.)

you just spent a minute typing out a list of problems that could be solved by their product? stocking,having to vary orders based on usage(that you can't track but very well could with this product)

also juicero didn't "make" juice it just pushed it out of a bag into a glass, this is doing actual analytics and inventory management.


Reading this comment page I honestly feel like I’m in an episode of Silicon Valley

Food waste is a real problem. If perishables are repurchased automatically, that reduces the amount you need to buy at once, which in turn reduces the amount that can go bad. This problem extends far beyond the Bay Area.

Until you eat out for a week, because life happened, and all that stuff that got delivered goes bad. I don't think adding a scale for coffee changes anything about food waste.

Our most vocal and happy customers are regular people who live in the suburbs of Seattle. I've asked a lot of them and most aren't super into gadgets.

What's your plan to scale this? Do you think running out of coffee beans is an issue on international scale or just national?

I'm always running out of coffee and I like to try all different kinds. I'm in for the beta test.

Smart move to secure .com beforehand.

Easier to remember than bttmlss.com or bottomless.commerce or some such thing, that's for sure :D

Sadly my mimosa brunch social network is now doomed :(

Thank you!

First reaction: this is brilliant. So stupidly simple that I can’t believe no one has done it.

You could make generic jars with longitudinal light detection strips to determine the fill level.

Is a strip cheaper than a load cell?

Good question, probably not. One other idea I had was a little light sensing pebble that acts like a dash button. When it is exposed in your pile of goods it adds it to your shopping list for approval.

Awesome idea and product! Liana and Michael bright my day with Bottomless every single day!

Wow, this is such a boring idea

Kuddos for this great concept and best of lucks! We were almost batch partners ;)

Thank you. We were accepted on our third application. Keep grinding!

I always keep my coffee beans in the freezer after opening the bag :/

You shouldn't freeze your beans. You can get a container which allows the beans to degas at a constant rate, which keeps them fresher for longer on your counter. Good beans don't deserve the freezer.

I'd love this thread to become a debate on the merits of freezing beans :).

Sure, coffee roaster here. It's false that allowing beans to degas c02 preserves them indefinitely as the parent comment seems to imply. There is however about a 10-hour window after roasting where degassing of c02 is so vigorous it impedes oxidation. Freezing vacuum sealed coffee, both green and roasted beans, will preserve it almost perfectly for years because freezing decreases oxidation rates by more than 90% and slows the movement of volatiles.[0] Enough people have documented and tested this and it's very common for Cup of Excellence winning and other notable coffees to be stored for extended periods of time this way. There are even cafes with reserves of such coffee, you can walk in and they'll pull winners from years ago for you to try. Scott Rao documents the research and resulting evidence of why it's beneficial to freeze coffee in his book The Coffee Roaster's Companion.[1] It's just not economical at scale, or necessary. Green coffee is "fresh" for about 9 months on average, most roasters go through specific lots of coffee well before that window closes. The sad reality is that most roasted coffee is well past its peak by the time it reaches the consumer.

You can conduct an at-home experiment yourself by finding a local roaster, asking when their roast days are and if you can get some coffee from that batch before it's allowed to rest. Seal and freeze a portion while keeping the rest in a normal valve-release bag and compare after a week or two.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Coffee-Technology-Michael-Sivetz/dp/0... [1] https://www.amazon.com/Coffee-Roasters-Companion-Scott-2014-...


Interesting. There's a debate about whether freezing beans is the right thing to do: https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2010/09/should-you-freeze-you...

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts!


Great idea and so many options as a business going forward! Just randomly was listening to you on Invest Like the Best today. I have an Airbnb listing that this service would be great for. Looking forward to hearing how your business evolves and grows in the future!

We were wondering whether this would be a good service for Airbnb listings, do you offer coffee for your guests? Anytime I've been into Airbnbs, my biggest complain is the bad coffee!

We do offer coffee but I agree, it's difficult to balance quality with maintainability (low-cost, minimal supplies, easy cleanup etc). We currently just use pre-ground drip coffee but I'm thinking about getting a grinder plus bottomless for the beans. I don't even drink coffee so I find myself checking reddit for reviews on grinders/coffee etc...

I want this for:

- when cat litter needs replacing (and refilling)

- lawn mower gas

- baby wipes. Diapers.


Fuck coffee, can you do this with booze? In bars?

Absolutely! Also beer kegs! The sky is the limit.

I think BevSpot offers that.

That sounds awesome! Congrats on the launch -

Remind me of the amazon dash button.

We are a Dash button that presses itself.

Plans de of launching in Canada?

you got 2 weeks to wait until april fools

Have you thought about offering Matcha and Mate? I have been ordering "Mate Powder" (I call it that way) to prepare Mate at home and cakes as well.

Taste really good and would love to use your service if you include them :)


Hi, yes, we have thought about doing so. What company do you buy it from?

[flagged]


"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I would love to have this solution for every product in my fridge. Even my entire kitchen.

Re-ordering things when you're actually almost out of them as opposed to on a fixed schedule seems ideal from the consumer's perspective. To me this is a better solution to the problem Amazon tried to solve with Dash buttons.

I could imagine living in a future world where my grocery list is dynamically defined as the products e.g., below 25% of their original weight.

I am excited to try it.


Yup, I'm completely on board for a way to monitor my consumable items.

The re-ordering part is a bonus, but simply knowing what I'm nearly out of in real time would be very, very, helpful.

I imagine this is more true of people with kids, who are not naturally inclined to track and communicate this information. They will, however, chew you out when you return from the store without more of the cereal that they have just finished. ;)


Yes, I can see it now. So, we have a bunch of millennials that have no idea how to manage a pantry because they only eat at their company cafeterias or dine at restaurants. Instead of thinking "gee I'm almost out of coffee I'll go buy some", they get a bunch of wifi scales. And then a better one with more features comes out, and the old ones get shipped to SE asia so a 5 year old can try to recover some recyclables from it. Then the company that makes it goes bankrupt and every scale becomes useless. And more electronic waste gets shipped to the 3rd world.

Not sure that I agree with the series of events leading to your conclusion, but automating pantry management is really appealing to me for convenience. It seems like something better left to automation than spending human cycles on.

I think of it as the "declarative kitchen" like how we have declarative infrastructure or declarative languages. Now if only I could declare some brownies...


I feel like that's the killer app for fridges, if only appliance makers weren't stuck in the stone age.

Camera in a fridge? Solves a problem no one has ever had (since the invention of doors).

Actual sensor fusion between shelf weight scales + image recognition + a "light touch" UX model to predict current stock? And reorder?

Could close the loop and automate the entire "essentials" grocery experience. And actually free up useful time for people.


What an odd way to respond to two people willing to take the risk to start a new thing. You can say something similarly flippant and derogatory about most every company at its start.

- "Books online?! Feh!" - "Power from hydrocarbons?! Nonsense! Get a real job!" - "Flying machines? We need more bicycles!"

It would be better to engage with the founders and ask why they started the company and what they think the can achieve. I did that and have enjoyed working with Liana and Michael. Also, though it doesn't matter much, neither of them studied CS in college.


"First they laugh at you, then they fight, then you win" -- Elizabeth Holmes.

I waste way less coffee using Bottomless than I did before. Cheaper for me, better for the environment. Real world doesn't have to mean "huge".

I don't understand, how/why do you waste coffee without this product?

Ooops, not sure you'll ever see this, but my main method of getting coffee has been subscription services. I invariably get way too much coffee using normal subscriptions.

right, your time spent writing that comment is more useful and solves real-world problems. I feel bad for your kids

Please don't respond to a comment that breaks the site guidelines by breaking them yourself! That just puts us deeper in the hole.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


yeah, sorry about that.

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