Yogurt is at its best when it's freshly made and additive-free, which is why the more health-conscious folks prefer making this tasty snack at home instead of buying it. But yogurt-making is a messy job: you have to first heat the milk up to at least 161°F or 72°C for pasteurization separately, as pretty much all yogurt makers can't reach that temperature; and you also have to measure how much bacterial culture to put in.
This is where Food-X-backed Hong Kong startup Lecker Labs comes in. Its first product, Yomee, is a machine that takes care of the entire yogurt-making process, covering high-temperature heating (reaching 185°F or 85°C), stirring, culture loading, fermentation and chilling (down to 50°F or 10°C). When ready, simply pop the cup out and enjoy.
The coolest part about Yomee is actually its culture pods. Think of it as the Nespresso or Keurig of the yogurt world, except these "pods" don't come with plastic or metallic containers; they are fully dissolvable, thus leaving no waste behind. Better yet, they come with natural flavoring and have a six-month shelf life.
As simple as the pods look, it's not easy packing the live bacteria into such form factor without crushing them, but Lecker Labs eventually found a New Zealand lab that got this right. The company also offers non-dairy pods for folks who seek vegan yogurt, which is often hard to find in the market.
To make a batch of yogurt (10 oz each time), first pour in milk or any non-dairy alternative into the double-insulated cup (polycarbonate on the outside, glass on the inside), then mount the cup into the Yomee machine, load your culture pod from the top of the machine (it can store up to three pods), choose your preferred type of yogurt (plain, Greek or stirred) via the touch panel on the base or mobile app over Bluetooth, and then hit start. Six hours later, the yogurt will be chilled and ready.
While the Yomee pods will initially be available in vanilla, strawberry and blueberry flavors, you can obviously add actual bits of fruits or even oat to plain yogurt instead. And you can do this later by using the cup's lid which doubles as a container. The app also comes with a variety of recipes with detailed nutritional breakdown, and if you're on iOS, it'll link up to Apple's HealthKit for a more precise dietary tracking.
Another benefit of making yogurt at home is the cost savings, and this is particularly true with Yomee. According to Lecker Labs CEO Ashok Jaiswal (formerly of EzeeCube fame), each dairy culture pod will cost around $0.65 at retail, whereas the vegan version will be about $1.50 each. Even if you include other ingredients such as milk and toppings, this is still a lot cheaper than buying mass-produced yogurt from the shops (and do bear in mind that each pod produces two servings of yogurt).
Much like Jaiswal's previous project, the Yomee has taken the crowdfunding route, except this time it's on Kickstarter. The base package costs $99 and includes one Yomee machine plus 20 pods (dairy or vegan); or you can go for the "Twin Pack" with double of everything for $189. If all goes well, you can expect delivery in April next year.