July 19, 2024
Is this the future of coffee? Kaffa Roastery releases AI-conic blend



I am really into (my friends might say somewhat obsessed with) coffee. Not just for the hits of caffeine that fuel our productivity-enthralled capitalist society, but also for the taste, as well as different styles of brewing (although my Swedish roots make me partial to a pour-over). 

Sadly, I do not often get to write about it, as — even though coffee roasting and brewing rely on technological engineering — tech startups and coffee hardly ever intersect in the news. Enter Helsinki-based Kaffa Roastery, and its new blend of beans called AI-conic. 

The blend for the coffee (which costs €12.90 for 250g and has roast level medium) was determined by feeding data on Kaffa Roastery’s coffee beans to an artificial intelligence model provided by local AI consultancy Elev. 

Elev’s founder, Antti Merilehto, is a long-time consumer of Kaffa’s goods, and the collaboration reportedly came about as a way of testing if AI could be of assistance in such a traditionally artisanal sector as specialty coffee. And as a pretty good opportunity for publicity, one would imagine.

Elev, which doesn’t develop its own models but optimises ChatGPT for companies and offers trainings on how to use Microsoft’s Copilot, says it enlisted AI first in the design of the process, then in how to select the beans. After that, Kaffa determined the roasting profile and “took it from there.”

While I am delighted that there was still a human doing the actual roasting, as I very much appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into roasting coffee beans, I would not be at all surprised if we see AI-determined roasting profiles before long. Although, for most small-scale roasters, the enjoyment is surely in the nerdery and meticulous attention to detail it requires.

“No human intervention” required

The blend (skip this bit if you are a single-origin-only diehard) consists of four different kinds of beans. It is 40% Brazil, Fazenda Pinhal, 25% each of Colombia, San Lorenzo, and Guatemala, La Bolsa, as well as 10% of Ethiopia, Geruke. 

Usually, blends are made from two or three beans. Although surprised at the model’s decision to use four different ones, following blind tasting, Kaffa’s roasters apparently determined that the blend was “perfect” and required no human intervention. 

Kaffa showcased the AI-conic coffee blend at this past weekend’s Helsinki Coffee Festival at the Helsinki Cable Factory.

“This (trial) was the first step in seeing how AI could help us in the future,” Kaffa’s founder and managing director Svante Hampf told the Associated Press during the festival. “I think AI has plenty to offer us in the long run. We are particularly impressed by the coffee taste descriptions it created.”

The tasting note description dreamt up by AI for its AI-conic blend is “Juicy and dynamic. A well balanced blend of sweetness and ripe fruit.”

Personally, I prefer a little bit more detail. But then again I am the editorial team’s designated coffee snob. In either case, Kaffa has peaked my interest. I will order a bag of AI-conic and update this article when I’ve sampled the brew.



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