Shopping Cart
Free shipping on orders $35+

A Coffee Roaster in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

by Colin Trieber on

The first time I roasted coffee I was seated on a wooden stool in front of a small fireplace. A softly burning but well kept fire danced over a bed of hot coals. A charred cauldron was placed a foot or so above the fire. It must have been used a thousand times already to be charred so absolutely black. The green coffee was poured into the cauldron by a young Nepalese man, while the homemade, wooden stirring tool in my hands was the only thing I was given to keep the coffee moving so as not to have it burn. 


For forty-five minutes my primary responsibility was to keep those coffee seeds moving in a consistent fashion and to lead them into a nice, even dark roast. I recall that I succeeded in doing so. The cup of coffee which was brewed from the batch I had roasted, to recapture quite simply, was magical.

My Introduction to Coffee Roasting

That was 2011, and I was staying in a Nepalese village named Begnas Tal in the lower Himalayas. The family which ran the guest house was pioneering Nepalese coffee from their remote location, and they were willing to include their guests in the process. The two weeks staying there was my first introduction to the agricultural and production process behind coffee. I learned some things and was thoroughly interested in it all. The coffee was the best I had ever had. Still, when I left Begnas Tal, I would not have believed it that someday I would become a professional coffee roaster. 

Roasting Coffee Locally

In the late spring of 2018 I began my tenure as the roaster at Fika Coffee. Yet this time, instead of a small fireplace and a charred black cauldron, I had a Diedrich! A six-foot tall steel roaster running on propane with a giant exhaust chimney, a 12-kilo roasting drum, and a shiny cooling bin with fan and agitator. Quite a different setting than the one in those rolling Himalayan hills. And not to lead you to think I was complaining, or even comparing (at the time). For the aesthetic at Fika was humble, charming, inviting, and engaging; Fika was unique and all its own.

Immersion is the Greatest Teacher, But Tradition is its Ground

For over two years now I have slowly honed and refined my skills, and established my own style as a roaster. Josh, as my main mentor in this process has contributed a lot. But the weekly roasting process and my immersion in it has been my greatest teacher. Let me tell you a little bit about this process.

(Added 10/13 - I would like to additionally state that while immersion certainly is a necessary aspect of learning, there would be no foundation to learn upon without history, the past, or tradition. It could be that we have actually gone too far in preference of immersion that we have deprived the lessons of history, and the tradition of our ancestry of its substance. Individually and personally immersion and experience is necessary, but socially and culturally speaking tradition is perhaps far more important than the persistent immersion of individuals into new experience. I will leave it at that, but it seemed like an important additional clarification to bring into this.)

Every Tuesday and Wednesday is a roast day at Fika. On a typical roast day, I roast between 16 and 28 batches. Each batch is between 17 and 21 lbs, and takes typically 9 to 12 minutes. During those 9 to 12 minutes, from when the coffee seeds are loaded into the roaster and ultimately dropped into the cooling bin, I spend about half of my time interacting with the roast software (on the computer screen) and the other half of my time interacting with the roaster, the coffee, and other elements in my immediate environment including other human beings. 

 Coffee-Roasting-Lutsen-MN

Technology and Coffee Roasting

While the computer and the roasting software is a valuable tool to my roasting process, I am thankful that no more of my time is spent looking at the computer. The personal interest which I have cultivated for my work, as well as the perceived value of my labor, I find to be interwoven more so with my actual physical participation with the process. That is to say, I enjoy using my own head and hands to solve problems much more than asking the computer to take responsibility. I also enjoy interacting with the broader environment much more than the computer screen. 


Without exception though, the coffee industry is moving the same direction as the world at large; towards greater technological intrusion into the workspace. Just a couple months ago, Cropster launched an artificial intelligence application to their software, the same software we are using at Fika. No level of restraint could prevent my inner self from cringing at how “the way of the future” was appearing immediately into my own work life. But how could I honestly say I was surprised? Perturbed, perplexed, and concerned, yes… but not surprised.

The Coffee Roasting Dilemma

So, here is my dilemma which I would like to share openly, and to name explicitly, because I believe it includes and involves all of us. It is a dilemma which I believe we all can see in nearly every aspect of life. We are being continually invited to outsource personal autonomy in favor of a technology dominated social landscape. We are consenting to further a social domain dominated by perpetual technological intrusion, and therefore human obsolescence. In other words, a social domain increasingly absent of human participation is being created. 

Outsourcing my Connection

The outcome we are witnessing from our persistence on this path is that in adopting technologies to fulfill tasks and duties I once did, my social value as a human being diminishes. After all, my human social value is not derived by freeing itself from practical work and social responsibility. My human social value is not cultivated through outsourcing my own connection with my work process, handing it over to a computer software system, thus becoming more isolated and independent, yet useless. No, my human value in a social sense is derived by contributing ever more skillfully to a healthy functioning social domain. 

We long to Feel Connected

I believe any human being would feel this way with their work. We long to feel connected to the world around us, and our work is a huge part of that. Today’s technologies, rather than connecting us to the world in more intimate ways, now tend to disconnect us. Technology and its applications are clearly creating, maintaining, and furthering our social voids.

Relinquishing my Own Abilities

Still, there is more to my hesitation than the mere transference of human labor away from practical (hands on) involvement and towards further computer involvement. The bigger reason I resist this transfer of responsibility is that with each adoption of new technology, I actually end up relinquishing my own intellectual and cognitive abilities for problem solving to some degree. I outsource my thinking potential, and therefore inhibit the development of my highest human capacity; indeed the capacity which truly makes me human; the ability to think.

Crossing a Threshold

Adoption of technology isn’t inherently a problem either, and I need to be clear about that. I am not against technology. For many of our technological innovations have been productive and necessary. Many have even contributed to an aesthetical improvement for human life. Still, it is obvious, we have crossed a threshold where this is clearly no longer the case. Productivity matters so little when all aesthetic quality and connection to life is gone, or diminished.

Devaluing the Human Element of Coffee Roasting

Artificial intelligence, even for roasting, represents the giving away of real human capacities so that a machine can carry out the task(s) instead. With very minimal foresight it is easy to see that the path of accepting artificial intelligence ever more so into my work space and even into my work duties, is the path of making my own work obsolete. It is the path of devaluing my human labor, as well outsourcing my internal capacities of cognition requisite for problem solving. It is the path of employing computer programmers in Europe to design more software which ultimately brings me closer and closer to the screen, and further and further from the coffee seed. In adopting this path, I would become less the guiding intelligence of the roasting process, and more the subservient shadow of the roasting technology. 

Questions for You

To wrap this inquiry up isn’t so easy, but for now necessary. So I will try. The questions which I would like to extend into the social domain more broadly, are these:

  • Do you desire to further the now popular social impulse of our time which continues to transfer the value of human labor away from the human being, and onto the machine?
  • Do you long for an economic social sphere which has no need for human labor and ultimately no need for human involvement?
  • And, what will you do with your time and energy, and with your hands, hearts, and minds once you have no responsibility to the social domain of humankind? 

My Goals and Intentions

As a coffee roaster, I fully intend to continue to immerse myself in the actual process of roasting coffee. And therefore, I fully intend to refine my sense perceptions, to hone my observational acuity, and to further my problem solving capacities through practical connection with my work. This implies using the computer as little as possible, and my hands and head as much as possible; as to deepen my involvement with the coffee roasting process, not to confine it ever more tightly into the realm of computer analysis and data determination, my eyes incessantly staring at magic lines on a screen until they are crossed.

Incorporating Technology at Fika Coffee

Undoubtedly, new technologies will arrive that Fika will adopt into its operations. Hopefully, some will be pushed aside. Ideally, some currently used technologies in the coffee roasting landscape I may even relinquish. What I believe is essential though, is to be ever more thoughtful on which technologies truly serve the development of all the people connected to the business, including the employees. While those idealistic Himalayan hills where my coffee roasting adventure began may be an unrealistic expectation for the modern world, I believe we still can and should be moving toward them rather than further away.

 

---

 

Share with us in the comments:

  • Do you desire to further the now popular social impulse of our time which continues to transfer the value of human labor away from the human being, and onto the machine?

  • Do you long for an economic social sphere which has no need for human labor and ultimately no need for human involvement?

  • And, what will you do with your time and energy, and with your hands, hearts, and minds once you have no responsibility to the social domain of humankind? 

Older Post Newer Post

Related Posts

5 Things I've Learned from Operating Fika Coffee
5 Things I've Learned from Operating Fika Coffee
As of this past June, it’s been 11 years since Fika has been in business. As I’m looking back, I realize that I’ve learn
Read More
New Guatemalan Coffee and a Birthday Treat
New Guatemalan Coffee and a Birthday Treat
It's Josh's birthday! We have few surprises in store, including a new coffee that you won't want to miss from Guatemala.
Read More

39 comments


  • I learnt about Decode Hackers at a desperate time in my life. I found this site ymwex.com the full url that I was trading on is https://www.ymwex.com/mobile/#/pages/mine/mineCenter it didn’t seem to have any indicators of a fraudulent firm like what was described to me earlier so I invested with them before i even thought it out that it could be a scam firm. They are based in Germany, the USA and claim to have been established in 2015 and were asking me to pay US taxes on a withdrawl of ETH before they will release it. They also were registered with the MSB, My family all came to the conclusion that it was a scam. I went hunting for a hacker when I came across DECODE HACKERS. Their rating and reviews were likeable and a quick check with a federal agent also came positive. That was 2 weeks ago. I am eternally grateful to them for recovering my funds. If by chance this is a similar story to yours, do your research and try them out. Email: DecodehackersATgmailDOTcom (TELGM: +1913843379).

    Del Monte Lavoz on

  • Read For Help With Lost Crypto Reach out Lost Recovery Masters

    I must give special thanks to Lost Recovery Masters, Specialized hackers in Cryptocurrency Recovery and lost Bitcoin wallet tracing, My wife and I happened to be scammed by an online scammer who claimed to be professional and knowledgeable in the field of investments. My wife and I had agreed to invest our savings pounds worth $623,400 in the form of Crypto. This scammer persuaded us to invest in an online platform called Cryptos-seed.com.’ ’I was persuaded to deposit the funds to a platform that would generate us much profits on a daily basis. The profits generated significantly, but on asking about my withdrawal of the funds ,the swindler provided multiple excuses and was asking me to invest more funds. On search on how to recover The lost funds I came through Lost Recovery Masters who were able to recover a significant portion of the lost funds. Contact them through:
    Whatsapp: +44(7537)-(105921)
    Email (Support@lostrecoverymasters.com)
    Website: https://lostrecoverymasters.com/

    Vera Chekan on

  • In a world filled with opportunities and risks, the realm of investments can be both exhilarating and treacherous. My spouse and I learned this the hard way when we fell victim to an internet con artist masquerading as an expert in investments. What started as a promising venture quickly turned into a nightmare as we realized we had been duped out of a staggering $109,000. The con artist, adept at manipulation and deceit, led us down a path of false promises and empty assurances. When we attempted to withdraw our funds, we were met with a barrage of excuses and demands for more money. It was a devastating blow, one that left us feeling helpless and betrayed. Amidst the despair, a ray of hope emerged in the form of Daniel Meuli Web Recovery. Their reputation as specialized experts in tracing lost Bitcoin wallets and cryptocurrency recovery preceded them, and we knew we had to reach out to them for help. It was during our search for information on how to recover lost funds that we stumbled upon their name, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in our journey to reclaim what was rightfully ours. From the moment we contacted Daniel Meuli Web Recovery, we were met with professionalism, empathy, and a genuine desire to assist. They listened to our story with compassion and understanding, assuring us that there was still hope for recovery. With their expertise and guidance, we journeyed to reclaim our lost funds. Despite the complexity of the situation, Daniel Meuli Web Recovery approached the task with unwavering determination and precision. Their team of experts meticulously analyzed our case’s circumstances, leaving no stone unturned in their quest for recovery. To our immense relief and gratitude, Daniel Meuli Web Recovery succeeded in retrieving our lost monies—a feat we once believed impossible. Their dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to their clients were nothing short of remarkable, and we are forever grateful for their assistance during our time of need. If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, grappling with the aftermath of financial fraud or cryptocurrency theft, don’t lose hope. Reach out to WWw.danielmeulirecoverywizard.online and let them guide you toward a solution. With their expertise and unwavering support, you too can reclaim what’s rightfully yours and emerge stronger than ever before. Don’t hesitate to contact Daniel Meuli Web Recovery for recovery services.

    WhatsApp +393512013528
    Email Danielmeuliweberecovery@email.com

    Aski Lockett on

  • Choosing A Reliable Bitcoin Recovery Service: iBolt Cyber Hacker Verified Agency

    iBolt Cyber Hacker is known for their expertise in recovering lost or inaccessible Bitcoin funds. With a team of skilled professionals and state-of-the-art technology, they have successfully helped numerous clients recover their digital assets securely and efficiently. When choosing a Bitcoin recovery service, it is essential to consider factors such as reputation, experience, security measures, and success rate. iBolt Cyber Hacker excels in all these areas, making them a top choice for individuals seeking reliable assistance with Bitcoin recovery. Whether you have lost your Bitcoin wallet password, experienced a hacking incident, or encountered any other issue preventing access to your funds, iBolt Cyber Hacker can provide the expert help you need. Trustworthy, efficient, and dedicated to client satisfaction, they are a dependable partner in navigating the complexities of Bitcoin recovery.

    More Info:

    Email: Support @ ibolt cyber hack . com

    Contact/Whatsapp: +39 350 929 0318

    Website: https : // ibolt cyber hack . com /

    Andrew Kriver on

  • Choosing A Reliable Bitcoin Recovery Service: iBolt Cyber Hacker Verified Agency

    iBolt Cyber Hacker is known for their expertise in recovering lost or inaccessible Bitcoin funds. With a team of skilled professionals and state-of-the-art technology, they have successfully helped numerous clients recover their digital assets securely and efficiently. When choosing a Bitcoin recovery service, it is essential to consider factors such as reputation, experience, security measures, and success rate. iBolt Cyber Hacker excels in all these areas, making them a top choice for individuals seeking reliable assistance with Bitcoin recovery. Whether you have lost your Bitcoin wallet password, experienced a hacking incident, or encountered any other issue preventing access to your funds, iBolt Cyber Hacker can provide the expert help you need. Trustworthy, efficient, and dedicated to client satisfaction, they are a dependable partner in navigating the complexities of Bitcoin recovery.

    More Info:

    Email: Support @ ibolt cyber hack . com

    Contact/Whatsapp: +39 350 929 0318

    Website: https : // ibolt cyber hack . com /

    Andrew Kriver on


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published