WATCH: AI and Coffee with Neil Maree of Genio Roasters

Friday, 22 September, 2023

As you sip your morning coffee, you may be unaware that AI has played a role in the bean-to-cup supply chain somewhere along the way. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly commonplace in a variety of industries and the coffee industry is no exception.

One of our most eye-opening presentations at this year's Creative Coffee Week was an introduction to this topic. And wow, we learnt a lot.

Neil Maree has done a ton of research into this area as he develops the Evolution Series of Genio Roasters. 

Thank you to the Team (Jacolene!) for putting together this awesome video.

AI in Coffee by Caz Smith

AI in the coffee industry

AI is essentially changing how coffee is grown, produced, distributed, and consumed. From AI-powered drones and sensors in crop cultivation and management to machine learning algorithms and computer vision technology on the coffee grading and cupping tables. AI-powered roasting machines are learning from master roasters to replicate their techniques while AI-driven brewing equipment and robotic automation are assisting baristas. Blockchain technology and AI-powered platforms are aiding traceability, inventory control, and logistics and coffee shops are using chatbots and voice assistants to streamline the ordering process and provide personalised recommendations based on customer preferences and order history.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is a component of the 4th Industrial Revolution that combines computer science and datasets to enable problem-solving. Genio Evolution series uses a neural network, which is a method in AI that teaches computers to process data in a way that is inspired by the human brain. It is comprised of AI algorithms that teach them to learn from this data, find patterns in existing data, and apply those patterns to new data to make intelligent decisions. As with the introduction of computers in the Digital Revolution, we humans have learnt to adapt to the fast-changing environment of AI-driven technology. AI can assist in decision-making, provide insights and automate repetitive tasks but unique human qualities such as empathy, creativity, and adaptability remain indispensable.

Does the AI-enabled roaster “remove” the roaster skill & knowledge from the roasting process?

Roasting is a complex and intricate art that requires precise control of temperature and time to achieve a desired flavour profile and takes years and many roast cycles to master. AI-powered roasters are playing a pivotal role in the roasting process by being able to draw on new data points and refer back to old roast profiles during the roast cycle thus being able to fill in the blanks in human intuition and inform us with certainty what is the best way to achieve a desired result and to enhance our performance as a master roaster.

With AI assistance, can any stupid person roast coffee?

There is no such thing as a stupid roaster, only different entry points into the field from beginner level to intermediate to master roaster. Each input level is valuable and with each roast cycle the AI trains and assists you to continually improve.

Genio reward system

The Genio evolution system is built on different datasets, utilizing data from sensors in and around the roaster and data from the cupping table, so the more data you feed into it, the more informed it becomes. We reward users according to their credentials by attaching different weights to different levels of their data input. For example, a Q Grader’s data input would be more valuable than an apprentice roaster who only has five roasts under their belt, so the Q Grader’s data is weighted as 10 and the apprentice roaster is weighted far less. As the user increases their skill level and credentials over time, they are rewarded via Genio’s reward point system that gives a discount on the software, therefore the incentive is to refine and improve their knowledge and skills.

Will my information be anonymous and a secret?

All information sent to and received from the servers is completely anonymous and encrypted and no one can access it from outside the system.

Artificial Intelligence allows us to work in newer, smarter ways in the coffee industry but it is up to the stakeholders and users to embrace this change and work in collaboration with AI for improved efficiency and quality. Hollywood has depicted AI as a super-intelligent robot trying to destroy humanity but in reality, it just wants to make us the best cup of coffee.

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