Blooming into a New Era for Coffee

The world we live in today has seen a large boom in technological advancements in the past 10-15 years. These include automation, 3D printing, laser cutting, drones, and many more that are revolutionizing how companies go about carrying out their manufacturing and distributing processes. These types of advancements are put in place for one main reason; creating a more efficient process. Almost any company would adopt a system of new technology if that led to manufacturing the same quality product in a shorter time and cutting time for the product to reach the consumer. With this in mind, I want to see if and how these new technologies can and are being implemented, or if in some instances the traditional methods rein superior.

If I were a coffee company and wanted to implement new technology, my main criterion would be that this said technology creates a faster process to get the cup of coffee to my customer and that this does not sacrifice the quality of the coffee I produce. I believe there are a couple of ways technology could be used to achieve these goals. I know that one of the most time-consuming and strenuous aspects of the coffee production process is going though and finding the ripe cherries and leaving the unripe ones left on the bush. But, what if the workers on the plantation knew where to find the ripe cherries? This would allow them to not waste time sorting through the unripe bushes and would lead to an increase in amount of cherries brought back each day. The way I would go about doing this would be to use drone technology. The drones would fly through the plantation and essentially make a heat map of where the ripe cherries are compared to where the cherries are not ripe. This idea is feasible to make since the drone would only need color-distinguishing capabilities. This type of technology is already out there and works well, I even used this type of color-distinguishing technology in high school to make a marble sorting machine. The drone would locate where the ripe, or red, cherries are and light up those areas on a map of the plantation which would allow for these to be easily located the next morning by the workers. The implementation of this technology would not interfere with the quality of the coffee and would make an overall more efficient process of picking the cherries.

I could also envision improvements to the distribution process using new technology. This would mainly be accomplished using automation. The main goal of this would be to get the bag of coffee to the next location to be roasted or straight to the consumer to brew in the shortest amount of time possible to ensure the best quality. Also, as a company, I would want to eliminate any coffee going to waste by being made and not being sold so it will go bad and unsellable. The way I would do this is by running by machines that roast and package the coffee in conjunction with a system that knows how much coffee is being ordered and needs to be made. This will aim to ensure that the only coffee that is being made is that of which has already been sold. Obviously, this is not obtainable at 100% efficiency due to needing to forecast the future trends in sales and needing coffee ready in the stores without a guarantee of selling. However, I would aim to reduce that aspect as much as possible and primarily focus on producing as a make to order company. This approach would lead to the freshest possible coffee being distributed to the customers. This does not take away from the quality of the coffee, if anything it would improve the quality based on freshness, and would hopefully allow for the product to be distributed more efficiently and in a quicker manner based on producing as orders come in.

However, I do believe there are some parts of the process that benefit from using traditional methods. These primarily lie in the parts of the process that deal with getting the beans ready to be roasted. This is for two main reasons; the added technology in these parts would lead to a large cost to run and maintain, and that these added machines could diminish the quality of the end product. One part of the process I would not do this is in the wet mill. There is no need for electricity or other types of energy to be used in this stage except for hydropower. This process separates by weight and does so in a very efficient manner where any added machine or technology would be unnecessary and lead to unwanted costs. Another stage where I would avoid adding technology is during the drying process. On our visit to Doka Estates, they made it very clear that traditional sun-drying method leads to a higher quality product than that of drying in the machines. The only downside to this is that it takes extra time with the traditional method, but I feel that the quality of the product is of higher importance. Overall, I feel that there are parts of the process that could be enhanced with new technology, but do feel that some steps of the process should be left to the traditional methods. The right balance needs to be found that makes the highest quality product and gets it to the consumer in the freshest state possible and I believe that this is a very obtainable goal for companies to reach.

Leave a Reply