Science Meets Art: Automation in Coffee Roasting
To put it simply, automation is a term for technology applications when human participation is minimal or nonexistent. Automation is a growing trend in many industries, with the aim of providing better quality control while taking pressure off the workforce. For customers, the automation process satisfies the demands for efficiency and consistency in the products that they use and consume. In this blog, we will discuss which sectors are affected by the automation in the coffee industry, and what are the benefits of automation for the coffee producers, coffee roasters, baristas, and home brewers.
From coffee production to coffee roasting and coffee brewing, consistency has been one of the main key factors in the industry. Customers expect their coffee to have the same quality each time they buy it. Automation can eliminate the human error factor and precisely guarantee the exact same quality from the coffee plantation down to each customer’s cup.
Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are always evolving with time. The coffee industry is not exempt from including these two technologies to create an automatic solution that improves efficiency, streamlines the daily operation, and creates consistent products. The continuing global pandemic also plays a part in coffee businesses’ efforts to make their operations more compact and efficient.
Automation in Roasting Coffee
Automation in coffee roasting seeks to improve consistency, efficiency and profitability. With automation, the number of variables that carry the risk of human error which can affect the quality of roasted coffee can be minimized, so it is easy to recreate and repeat roast profiles to get the same flavor on every single batch. Automation also frees up more time for the workers, which they can use to do other work or engage with their customers. When your automated coffee roasting machine can do the work for you, you are free to catch up with paperwork, train your staff, chat with your customers, or plan a new marketing campaign to attract new customers and increase customer retention.
There are two ways of automation in roasting coffee:
- Mechanical automation which includes the logistical processes involved in coffee roasting and the roaster machine, such as green bean loading, roasted beans cooling and discharging, also the conveying and packaging machines as parts of the coffee roastery’s operation. Usually large-scale coffee roasters implement an automated, digitally controlled process to meet their production volume.
- Software automation includes roast profiling softwares such as Artisan to help roasters manage all the stages during the roasting process. Software automation comes in two flavors, namely PID automation and playback automation. PID employs a logarithm to control the burner power so that the current roast matches the baseline profile. This PID system is pretty straight forward and can be quite accurate, but as an underlying shortcoming of PID, modulation might occur resulting in a slightly wavy profile curve. Playback automation is in essence a set of recipe of parameter adjustments based on bean temperature (BT) coupled with a discipline Between Batch Protocol, this method can be a very reliable tool to achieve roasting consistency.
Aside from the coffee roasting process, automation also plays a part in other sectors in the coffee industry such as:
1. Coffee production
Examples: Mechanical harvesters, automated irrigation control system, electronic sorter, infrared sensor for green coffee beans, AI-driven green coffee quality analysis system
Benefits: Reduced labor costs, reduce time for harvesting and processing, farmers can understand more about the quality of their coffee and increase their income
2. Coffee shops
Examples: Automated tampers and steam wands, precision coffee brewer, high-tech filter coffee maker
Benefits: Improve consistency, minimize time spent on manual task, minimize risk of repetitive strain injuries, more time for customer interaction which is still a vital part of the coffee shop experience
3. Administrative work
Examples: Automated ordering and payment platform, inventory management, storage solutions
Benefits: Takes over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, eliminates risk of data entry errors
4. Individual brewers
Example: Automatic filter coffee machine
Benefit: Home and office coffee consumers can enjoy high-quality coffee with minimal effort
The Future of Automation in the Coffee Industry
Slowly but surely, automation is shaping the coffee industry. As the time goes, new exciting technology always emerges, such as AI-driven first crack prediction and coffee farm climate mapping using drones. Beyond roasting consistency, AI and machine learning can help roasters experiment and achieve a perfect roast profile. Automation is and will always be a part of perfecting the art of coffee.
Berto roaster machines are equipped with fully automated roasting capability, both on the mechanics as well as the software. Starting a roast can be done easily from the control panel or conveniently from the software in your computer, auto charge and auto drop features, data logging and roast profile replicator, we have it all. Take your coffee business to great new heights with us.