Interview: Introducing the Genio Evolution Roaster

Friday, 26 April, 2024

Get insights into one of the most exciting innovations in the world of coffee roasting - proudly South African, internationally acclaimed  - Genio Roasters new AI based Coffee Roaster - The Evolution Series.

Neil, what led you to design this new roaster?

{Ed's Note: Neil Maree is the Founder and Chief Engineer at Genio Roasters}

Over the last 14 years, I've had the pleasure of working with hundreds of roasteries around the world. From my collaborations with roasters, I've noticed a distinct lack of understanding of the relationship between cupping scores and roast profiles; no one knows what to do during the roasting process to create specific flavor profiles in the final cup. Some roasters claim to have the knowledge, but can anyone really quantify exactly which setting to change to create that perfect sweetness in any circumstance? That’s where the concept originated: how to link cupping scores with roast profiles. We can achieve this by analyzing thousands of roasts and their corresponding cupping scores and applying Machine Learning (ML, or AI in marketing terms) to discover what gives a coffee its unique taste.

Please can you explain how your AI algorithm and the Roastery Resource Planning system will benefit roasters?

Our AI algorithm was developed in-house using the latest Machine Learning technology. It takes my high-performance computer over 3 hours just to run through the algorithm once. These AI systems require significant processing power and technology stacks to deploy on a large scale. To build the system, we have moved to a cloud-based solution where we can remotely train and deploy the latest algorithms to customers, no matter where they are in the world, and scale up to any level at the push of a button. It will still take some time to fully develop and train the system, but the heart of the AI solution is built into every part of our Evolution series roasters.

The first level of the AI is to predict what will happen during the roast in real time. This means that you can see the flick, the drop, the maximum RoR, and the first crack before they even happen, allowing you to adjust your roasting parameters (or let the machine do it for you) and modify the roast before it even happens.

The second level of the AI is to link cupping scores with roast profiles. With enough data and training, we aim to teach the system what parameters during the roast affect what flavour profiles and how certain aspects can be accentuated or reduced through careful profiling of the roast.

The Roastery Resource Planning (RRP) system was inspired by the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that most larger companies use to manage their businesses. In our own production of coffee roasting machines, we use an ERP daily to plan our production. I believe that roasters need this same level of granularity when it comes to tracking their orders, inventory, roast profiles, and lots. Genio is in a unique position to develop such a system because we can do so in tandem with our customers. So we have taken up the mantle of developing a full-house RRP system that will allow our customers to grow their businesses in a healthy, structured, and managed way to maximize productivity and minimize waste.

Can you please unpack the Active Heat Transfer Technology that is a key feature of the new roasters?

Active Heat Transfers means that we actively move heat to where we need it during the roast. This technique enables us to achieve faster roasts with shorter development times for the same roast degree by maximising convection heating over the entire surface of the perforated double-wall roasting drum. This is particularly beneficial for ultra-high quality coffees, where shorter roast times accentuate the floral aromas and delicate sugars during the roasting process.

And they look beautiful too! What were you going for with the aesthetics and how customisable is the roaster?

Thank you for noticing the aesthetics! Aesthetics were a crucial consideration in the Evolution series design. We crafted the Evolution series with a focus on clean lines and a modern industrial look that complements any roastery environment. Our aim was to achieve a blend of modern elegance and functionality. The roasters are fully customizable to suit individual preferences and branding needs, from colour schemes to branding plates. We firmly believe that a beautiful machine enhances the roasting experience and reflects the care we put into every detail.

We want people to view roasting as a showcase of their businesses. Just like proudly displaying your espresso machine on a beautiful counter, we're seeing more and more roasteries proudly showcasing their machines and production processes in their shops. We want our customers to have their machines front and center in their shops, where everyone can see them serving as both a marketing and educational tool into the world of freshly-roasted coffee.

George, what has the response been like in the market?

{Ed's Note: George Robinson is Head of Sales at Genio Roasters}

The market response to the Evolution series has been phenomenal. Roasters are delighted with the blend of advanced technology, striking design, and outstanding performance it offers. We've witnessed a surge in interest from both our existing Genio customers and new clients seeking to enhance their roasting capabilities.

We were fortunate to host two highly respected roaster companies—one from the USA and one from Japan—at our factory. These companies brought their own green beans, which they currently roast, sell, and supply worldwide. Their master roasters used the Genio Evolution to roast these beans. Three weeks later, both companies placed orders for the Evolution roasters. The USA ordered a 6kg model, while the Japanese clients ordered a 6kg and a 30kg model to replace their renowned industry-standard roasters with our Evolution Series Roasters.

Specialty roasters are particularly intrigued by the potential of AI-assisted roasting and the promise of Active Heat Transfer Technology. We're receiving numerous inquiries, and it's thrilling to see the industry's enthusiasm.‌

What is the single biggest advantage to owning a Genio Evolution?

Pinpointing a single biggest advantage is tough! But if I had to choose, it would be the ability to achieve unparalleled roast consistency and experiment with unique flavor profiles thanks to the combined power of AI and advanced heat management.  With our advanced technology and precise control systems, roasters can achieve consistent, high-quality results batch after batch. This not only enhances the flavor of the coffee but also builds trust with customers and ensures brand integrity.

The Evolution is designed to elevate your roasting experience and empower you to create truly exceptional coffee.

What sizes do they come in?

The Evolution series comes in a range of sizes to accommodate different production needs, from small boutique roasters to large-scale operations. We offer models with capacities ranging from 6 to 70 kilograms per batch.

How long is the wait, once I order one?

Our commitment to quality means that each Genio Evolution is meticulously crafted to order. Wait times can vary depending on the specifications, production schedules and current demand. However,  our sales team can provide you with the most accurate estimate for delivery timelines once you place your order. 

We believe the wait is worth it for a roaster that will revolutionize your coffee business.

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