"I spent years designing high-efficiency wood and charcoal cookstoves for developing countries," writes Ben West, founder of Spark Grills. "I learned a lot, and I'm proud of our impact. Today, about 30% of Rwandans use one of our cookstoves, which helped reduce the energy consumption of the country by about 10–15%."
After returning to the 'States, West noticed that backyard barbecue grilling with charcoal seemed to be a dying art. Charcoal produces higher heat and better flavors than cooking with gas, but it's harder to manage; lower-hassle gas seemed to be winning the barbecue war.
Thus West designed the Spark Grill, which combines the benefits of charcoal with the convenience of gas. This is made possible by West's proprietary design for what he calls the Briq, a sort of cartridge made from wood and charcoal, that inserts into a drawer and ignites at the press of a button.
Take a look at the UX:
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The only downside is that the Briqs are proprietary and single-use only (burning anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on which Briq type you buy; replacement packs of Briqs range $30-$50 for 5-packs to 9-packs). That means if Spark Grills goes belly-up and you can't get more Briqs, your grill itself is, well, bricked.
For now, however, the company's doing fine. Check 'em out here.
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