Even coffee beans taste better with digi-tech

By Tom Montague – Digital Careers State Manager, VIC & TAS @tommont99

These days most coffee drinkers are probably more concerned about how their coffee tastes rather than how it was made.  Well once you read this article perhaps next time you imbibe your coffee you will also think of the digi-tech used to deliver “the taste”.

I’ve been going to the Queen Victoria Market here in Melbourne off and on for close to 20 years and yesterday Shannon and I came across a new shop next to the traffic lights on the western-edge of the market.  It was a new coffee shop. Now a new coffee shop is really not that unusual in Melbourne these days but what was unusual was what was inside and I’m not talking about the beans.

Inside the shop taking up almost ¾ of the floor space and glistening behind a glass barrier was a brand new coffee roasting machine, the pride and joy of John Palmer the Merlo roast master.  John’s new shiny red Italian had just been installed 10 days ago. It is linked to a big screen overlooking the counter that happily tells me and any other coffee lovers awake enough to see what John’s pride and joy was doing.

Luckily for us John was happy to talk about his new roaster and the digi-tech sitting inside it.  Apparently his machine is full of sensors and software that help him to make and turn out his palette teasing roast day after day. As it turns out the roaster software was written in Italy and as you might expect can be up graded and tweaked on-line from Italy should the need arise.

The array of sensors inside his roaster enable him to vary the temperature of the beans before they enter the roaster; the amount of air circulating within the roaster; how fast the beans rotate around the roaster drum; how long the beans stay in the roasting drum and how quickly they are cooled before being sucked out to a packing station where the beans are bagged for distribution or used in the on-site expresso coffee machines.

This was some hi-tech machine.  Of course John still has to decide on how to best interpret and record the sensor data at his fingertips and to optimize the settings to produce the perfect cup of Java but without the sensors and software life would be a whole lot harder. Naturally the beans are important too but this century a little digi-tech, thought and understanding can make a good business grow and a great cup of coffee even better.

I’ve since discovered there are a number of companies that passionately cut roaster software such as RoasterThing, Roastlog and roasterdynamics (see links below) and yes there are jobs for people that like coffee and to cut code. I’ve also found that people with passion for coffee and tech can even build their own controllable coffee roaster by modifying, of all things, a pop corn machine (see the instructables link below).  Finally, I’d like to thank John and his new shop Merlo Melbourne for inspiring this taste for digi-tech article.  It’s your efforts, skill and and appreciation of digi-tech that make our coffee taste so much better.

Interesting Roaster links