Making of The Nescafé Alarm Cap

NOTlabs develops a 3D-printed lid that literally wakes you up with your morning coffee

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In the face of the booming craft coffee culture, instant coffee stalwarts Nescafé decided a brand refresh was in order. Opting for an innovative packaging activation to reintroduce the oft-ignored product to the greater creative community at large, Nescafé created the Alarm Cap, a combination container lid and alarm clock that encourages customers to wake up with a cup of their coffee. Creative Agency Publicis Mexico‘s recently launched Innovation Labs developed the concept, while NOTCOT‘s creative studio NOTLabs—run by site Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jean Aw and lab Director Shawn Sims—brought the idea to life. The limited-edition Alarm Caps are entirely 3D-printed, assembled in California and run on a custom Arduino-based platform.


When affixed to the Nescafé bottle, the lid coaxes customers out of bed with seven different alarm sounds—from bird chirps to other sounds scientifically designed to gently stimulate the mind—synchronized to a pulse of light. To turn the alarm off, the lid must be unscrewed from the container, thus encouraging the consumption of coffee inside. The base of the lid features an OLED display and four-way joystick. The lid itself is made of two 3D-printed pieces—the exterior by Shapeways (in SLS Nylon) and inner piece in-house by NOTlabs using ABS and PLA materials through their Makerbot Replicators. “From the first discussions, 3D printing was already integral to the original concept,” explains Aw. “The greatest benefit to [printing in-house] was being able to make minor changes on the fly during the production process and make sure everything fit ever-so-perfectly.”

Nescafe-Makingof-1.jpg Nescafe-Makingof-2.jpg

While the concept itself is clever, and no doubt fun, the initiative is especially interesting as it’s one of the first times we’ve seen a brand of such size call on 3D printing for an activation. As Aw sees it, “It’s the perfect example of a big brand embracing the technologies of the maker movement and showcasing how the accessibility of 3D printing and Arduino-based electronics allow for beautifully designed objects and experiences.” By bringing in a young creative entity like NOTlabs (also responsible for last year’s Instagram Infinity Cube) and using such a flexible production technique, the program was adaptable, and will likely be seen as success.


From prototyping to circuit soldering and final assembly, 200 individually numbered Alarm Caps were produced and assembled in house by NOTlabs. Watch the Alarm Cup video to see it in action.

For an even closer look at the extensive prototyping and design research that went into the making of the Nescafe Alarm Cap, check out the slideshow.

Images courtesy of NOTlabs