Student Gets Prize For Better Coffee Idea: Small-Batch Bean Roaster

Steve Miller
March 12, 2018 - 7:15 pm
Caleb Blankenbaker

Caleb Blankenbaker (Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio)


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Sixty thousand people are in town for the biggest annual trade event at McCormick Place: the International Home and Housewares Show.

More than 2,200 exhibitors are there with their products.

Caleb Blankenbaker – a 22-year-old student at University of Illinois-Chicago -- hopes to join them someday.

He’s trying to develop something he calls the Arome Coffee Bean Roaster.  Right now it's just a concept, made from a popcorn popper.

He said it's an energy-efficient, closed loop system that suppresses smoke.

"It's because of my brother that I got into this, because he's the one who roasts coffee pretty regularly,” Blankenbaker said. "When he roasts coffee, it fills up his whole house with smoke, and he has three kids. It’s not good for the lungs."

WBBM: Do you like coffee?

"I don't drink coffee too often actually,” he responds.

Blankenbaker, who is from Alden in McHenry County, won second place in the Housewares Show Student Design Competition. The prize is $1,750.

Here is a look at the other winners.