Un Café con tecnología, por favor

In today’s world technology is growing more rapidly than ever expected.  A concert is filled with lights from phone cameras, texting while driving is illegal in most major countries, and pedestrians do not even look where they are walking because they are too busy looking at their phones. On the other side, technology is used throughout businesses for expansion and an easier and simpler way of doing daily tasks.  Businesses have to have the sense of knowing what is best done with technology and what is best left as is.

Coffee businesses around the world are implementing this cutting-edge technology into their daily practice.  An example we’ve seen this past week is at Café Britt.  In the roasting room, the workers were surrounded by huge machines that made the roasting process, separating, and packaging of the beans much simpler.  If the company invests in a 3D printer, that could benefit them in the long run, as well.  At the fab lab, we did an activity where we took turns scanning each other and saving them to a computer.  We didn’t have enough time, but the idea was to 3D print our scanned selves.  If a piece of a giant machine at Café Britt were to break, and if this happened often enough, the company could scan and 3D print the piece themselves, rather than pay for the machine to be fixed every time it malfunctioned.  Modern day technology allows companies to become more independent and efficient.

The idea of 3D printing machines is innovative, but it’s not all about modern technology in the coffee industry.  Both Doka Estates and Café Britt explained to us during the tour that the best way to pick the coffee beans is by hand.  If a machine were to be created to pick the seeds, there would be no way of programming it to only pick the ripe seeds.  The coffee companies we have visited thus far pride themselves on only picking and roasting seeds when they are ripe, or red, and allowing the green ones to spend more time ripening.  Although the idea of machine to do all of the dirty work for them is enticing, only humans as of now have the ability to pick the best seeds.  Another example is Doka’s use of hydropower to separate the beans.  I’m sure a technology, if not already made, could be created to separate the beans into groups of similar quality.  The overall, and probably most important, question a company must ask is “Is it sustainable?”  This separating technology would most likely need to use some sort of electricity, power, or non-renewable resource to operate and for a country that prides itself on being “second in the world in sustainability,” not using a sustainable technique to produce one of their largest exports is not desirable.  In general, technology has the potential to be a fantastic asset to the coffee industry, but only when used most efficiently.  If not, some things are better left old school.

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