Cocoa Press: Breaking the Mold within the Chocolate Industry
Watch the Cocoa Press printer launch video here.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services has announced that Cocoa Press, creators of a 3D chocolate printer that produces custom chocolate creations, has expanded their leased space at the Inventor Office Building, a recently restored office space within the Pennovation Works development that allows startups and innovators to expand their footprint and grow their businesses.
Cocoa Press’s 3D printers dispense chocolate layer by layer, building objects by acting like a motorized piping bag. Because 3D printing eliminates the need for a chocolate mold, Cocoa Press allows anyone to create custom artisanal chocolates on demand. Each printer, which is about the size of a movie theater popcorn machine, is programmed with ideal temperature settings, and comes with pre-tempered chocolate refills. These temperature settings can be customized to allow the printer to print any kind of chocolate imaginable. The printer’s operator can take a 3D file, such as an object scan, text, or projected image, and print a corresponding chocolate creation. Due to the nature of 3D printing, the printer produces chocolates with textures and internal designs and structures that traditional chocolate molds cannot replicate.
Evan Weinstein, the founder of Cocoa Press and a 2019 Penn School of Engineering and Applied Sciences graduate, has been interested in chocolate and the bespoke chocolate industry since high school. Committed to finding a way to create customized chocolate creations without using expensive and hard to design molds, Weinstein spent time as an undergraduate working in Penn’s 3D printing lab, and after designing the prototype for Cocoa Press won the Miller Innovation Fellowship at Penn in spring 2019. After graduation, he was accepted into the Pennovation Accelerator Program, settled into a co-working desk at the Center, then was thrilled to expand Cocoa Press into the Office Building. With the recent sales launch of their printer this fall, not only has the team grown but also their business operations space.
About the entrepreneurial atmosphere, Weinstein says: “The community of engineers and entrepreneurs at Pennovation is really supportive. I go to my neighbors for support, advice, or just to borrow a tool! I can share my expertise in 3D printing while learning about futuristic topics I would never otherwise come across.” Weinstein is currently accepting preorders for his $5,800 printers with plans to ship by summer 2021. He plans to sell the Cocoa Press printer to chocolate hobbyists and niche markets, as well as bean-to-bar shops, but has a long-term goal of being the first certified food-safe chocolate printer approved for use in restaurants in the U.S.
While there are a few chocolate printing companies in Europe, Cocoa Press is currently the only one operating in the United States. “We are delighted to see Cocoa Press grow,” says Anish Kumar, Managing Director of Pennovation Works. “The community of innovators at Pennovation is so diverse in their work but all share one common goal: to advance and improve industry standards and practices. Cocoa Press’s 3D printer is an excellent example of the power of innovation and technology in finding new and exciting ways to manufacture goods in an industry that’s over 100 years old.”