Brewing with Artificial Intelligence: How Does Technology Breathe New Life into the Coffee Industry?

The next time you enjoy a perfect cup of coffee, you may have AI to thank.

When you think of coffee, you may envision a coffee machine that crackles or a coffee mug with your name on it. Despite this, for many of us, artificial intelligence (AI) has no relation to coffee. AI has infiltrated the global coffee supply chain and impressed us with its coffee selection, roasting, and pouring abilities, despite their apparent irrelevance to one another. But what are some practical AI applications in the business world? Find out by reading on.

Coffee bean evaluation
If you need a refresher, the most common types of coffee beans are Arabic, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. These coffee bean varieties vary significantly in aroma, flavor, and cost. Unless you are a coffee connoisseur or a “Q Grader” (a professional who specializes in coffee tasting and grading), it is unlikely that you will be able to differentiate between each type of coffee. However, you can also examine coffee beans like a pro with the aid of AI.

Demetria, an AgriTech startup based in Israel, is releasing a handheld device with a near-infrared sensor that works with its artificial intelligence platform “e-Palate” to determine coffee bean quality. Users must initially input quality parameters such as aroma, aftertaste, acidity, and sweetness into the device. Then, the user can position the device above the coffee beans, and the near-infrared sensor will analyze the biochemical markers (a set of distinct genetic traits that reveal crop properties) on the beans. The collected data will then be transmitted to “e-Palate,” where artificial intelligence will match the bean profiles with their distinct flavors as defined by the nonprofit, membership-based coffee trading organization Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) taster’s flavor wheel.

With Demetria’s AI-supported device, coffee evaluation becomes more accessible to general coffee traders, roasters, and farmers, enabling more business professionals to assess and monitor coffee quality during trading.

Coffee roasted to perfection
Everyone can be a roaster if they possess the necessary equipment. In contrast, roasting coffee is considerably more difficult. Although roast profiles are subjective (some may prefer a sourer or more acidic flavor, whereas others may prefer a bitterer flavor), coffee beans should not be under-roasted (tastes grassy and sour) nor over-roasted (tastes bitter) (tastes burnt). Otherwise, they will both overpower the bean’s natural flavor.

So, how can we ensure the quality of roasted coffee? Again, the answer is AI. Given that coffee beans generate steam during roasting, they will experience two audible “cracks” (popping sounds) that indicate the coffee roasting stage. Those who prefer light to medium roasts should stop roasting when they hear the first crack, while those who prefer dark roasts should wait until they hear the second crack. Therefore, it is essential to precisely control the roasting duration to achieve the desired coffee flavors.

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