Startup Profile: TasteTro is the ideal smart kitchen startup

The TasteTro won’t ship until spring 2017.

A connected spice rack is not necessarily something I would look for. You might even mock the idea. But on further reflection, it offers almost everything one might want in a connected kitchen gadget.

Canadian company TasteTro has built a connected spice rack and dispenser that dishes out perfect spice mixes and ensures that cooks always have a fresh supply of what they need. It’s essentially a Keurig for spices.

So why do I think it’s so great? First, it is both a useful gadget and a service. TheTasteTro uses connectivity (Bluetooth and RFID) to track what spices are in the rack and reorder new ones when they get low. Updates such as new spice blend recipes are also delivered over the air using your phone and the rack’s Bluetooth connection.

The rack holds 20 spices and has recipes for roughly 50 different blends. Eventually, I’d like to be able to import a recipe and have it dispense the appropriate amount of spices for that recipe, but today the goal is to help home cooks get a meal that tastes good on the table fast.

So if you have some thawed chicken breasts and zucchini set aside for dinner you can choose a blend for the chicken, one for the veggies, dispense and start sautéing. This feels crazy practical and fairly close to how plenty of people cook, employing $1 spice packets for everything from spaghetti sauce to grilled meats.

Since one of the most practical elements of connected cooking is that it can make novices into experts and their food taste better, this spice rack feels like a decent value, even if it is going to be priced at $250. A dumb spice rack with spices can range from $30 to $150 depending on where you shop and how many jars of spices are in it. Replacement packs will be comparable to the higher-end glass jars of spices one finds in the grocery store (about $5 to $8).

So this is expensive but super convenient. I think it has the potential to become an essential registry item for weddings or a nice gift for someone getting their first apartment.

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